The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness is an easy to read look into why the so-called founding fathers designed a secular society and how they achieved that goal. More interesting to most readers is the examination of Thomas Jefferson’s personal religious devotion coupled with his fervent dedication to the idea of a secular government.
Isaac Kramnick and R. Lawrence Moore do a nice job demonstrating the historical inaccuracies of those in the Christian right who consistently claim America was founded as a Christian nation. The authors also demonstrate how the arguments made by the Christian right have much to do with advancing the privilege of white men.
The three most interesting points I took from The Godless Constitution are as follows:
- Thomas Jefferson and many of those who contributed to The Constitution believed in an extremely limited government. As such, they rejected both the government’s ability to tell a business what it had to pay workers and the idea that government should say anything about one’s religion. As you know, the Christian right of today only rejects the latter.
- The way the book highlights how America was founded as a secular nation only to see the Christian right slowly chip away at the secularness of America was also interesting to read. If you listen to many Christians, they will try and convince you of the reverse. Despite history, they sell the idea that America was founded as A Christian nation and it has slowly become less Christian.
- Efforts to amend the Constitution to add a preference for religion–especially Christianity were also worth reading about. As most of us know, all of those efforts (spreading over more than a century) failed.
If you like history, you enjoy politics, you want to gain a greater understanding of the arguments around the role of religion in America, you should read The Godless constitution.