In the battles over religion and politics in America, both liberals and conservatives often appeal to history. But in The Myth of American Religious Freedom, historian David Sehat provides an eye-opening history of religion in public life that overturns our most cherished myths. Originally, heshows, the First Amendment applied only to the federal government, which had limited authority. On the state level, a Protestant moral establishment ruled over Catholics, Jews, Mormons, agnostics, and others. Not until 1940 did the Supreme Court extend the First Amendment to the states. As the Courtbegan to dismantle the connections between religion and government, religious conservatives mobilized to maintain their power and began the culture wars of the last fifty years. To trace the rise and fall of this Protestant establishment, Sehat focuses on a series of dissenters - abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, progressive pundit Walter Lippmann, and many others. Shattering myths held by both the left and the right, this book forcesus to rethink some of our most deeply held political beliefs.