Religion And The Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Contributions to Original Intent by Derek H. Davis

Religion And The Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Contributions to Original Intent

byDerek H. Davis

Hardcover | April 15, 2000

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How did the constitutional framers envision the role of religion in American public life? Did they think that the government had the right to advance or support religion and religious activities? Or did they believe that the two realms should remain forever separate? Throughout Americanhistory, scholars, Supreme Court justices, and members of the American public have debated these questions. The debate continues to have significance in the present day, especially in regard to public schools, government aid to sectarian education, and the use of public property for religioussymbols. In this book, Derek Hamilton Davis offers the first comprehensive examination of the role of religion in the proceedings, theories, ideas, and goals of the Continental Congress. Those who argue that the United States was founded as a "Christian Nation" have made much of the religiosity of thefounders, particularly as it was manifested in the ritual invocations of a clearly Christian God as well as in the adoption of practices such as government-sanctioned days of fasting and thanksgiving, prayers and preaching before legislative bodies, and the appointments of chaplains to the Army.Davis looks at the fifteen-year experience of the Continental Congress (1774-1789) and arrives at a contrary conclusion: namely, that the revolutionaries did not seek to entrench religion in the federal state. Congress's religious activities, he shows, expressed a genuine but often unreflectivepopular piety. Indeed, the whole point of the revolution was to distinguish society, the people in its sovereign majesty, from its government. A religious people would jealously guard its own sovereignty and the sovereignty of God by preventing republican rulers from pretending to any authority overreligion. The idea that a modern nation could be premised on expressly theological foundations, Davis argues, was utterly antithetical to the thinking of most revolutionaries.

About The Author

Derek Hamilton-Davis is Director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Relations at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, which offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Church-State Studies. He is also the Editor of Journal of Church and State.
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Title:Religion And The Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Contributions to Original IntentFormat:HardcoverPublished:April 15, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195133552

ISBN - 13:9780195133554

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"An excellent historical and legal study... informative and well-argued....The author does a magnificent job handling the inner tensions in liberal thought on the relationship between politics and religion. This achievement alone makes this book an important contribution....The author is to becongratulated for a significant contribution to our understanding of the original intent of the founders in particular and of their liberal order in general."--Law and Politics Book Review