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A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State [Hardcover]

By Darryl G. Hart (Author)
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Item description for A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State by Darryl G. Hart...

Darryl Hart contends that appeals to Christianity for social and political well-being fundamentally misconstrue the meaning of the Christian religion. His book weaves together historical narratives of American Protestantism's influence on the nation's politics, and commentary on recent writing about religion and public life, with expositions of Christian teaching. The tapestry that emerges is a compelling faith-based argument for keeping Christianity out of politics. A Secular Faith is sure to provoke a firestorm of debate among evangelicals and those who oppose their political activities.

Citations And Professional Reviews
A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State by Darryl G. Hart has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Library Journal - 09/15/2006 page 65
  • Booklist - 10/01/2006 page 28
  • Reference and Research Bk News - 11/01/2006 page 26

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher
Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.78" Width: 6.3" Height: 1.08"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2006
Publisher   Ivan R. Dee, Publisher
ISBN  1566635764  
ISBN13  9781566635769  

Availability  0 units.

More About Darryl G. Hart

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Darryl Hart, a historian of American religion, is director of academic projects and faculty development at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Wilmington, Delaware. He studied at Temple, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins universities, and at Westminster Theological Seminary, and has also written Defending the Faith, The University Gets Religion, That Old-Time Religion in Modern America, and The Lost Soul of American Protestantism. He lives in Philadelphia.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Church & State

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Reviews - What do customers think about A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State?

Desperately needed; wonderfully clear  Aug 11, 2007
We need this book right now. The arguments in America of 2007 over church and state are approaching delirium. We need Hart's well informed, well documented and decisive approach to the question. This is one of the best books I've seen on the issue, and one that is especially meaningful for Christians. Also recommended: the works of the great historian Mark Noll. ---
An Interesting Approach  May 3, 2007
Original, thought-provoking and oftentimes controversial, Darryl Hart's book, A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State, presents a new perspective of the proper boundaries of the Christian Church in the political arena of the United States of America. Hart ardently supports the strict separation of church and state and he presents this much-debated topic as a study of the negative effects of American politics on the Christian religion, rather than the negative influence of religion on politics. Offering a rebuttal to those conservative Christians who believe the secularization of American society heralds its downfall, Hart declares that this secularization is saving Christianity from being misemployed and trivialized by supporting political agendas.
Hart assumes that Christianity is an apolitical faith whose realm of authority only concerns the personal and private matters of salvation for Christians. Christianity has no role in political machinations and its public advocacy is not necessary for moral or good government. Reiterating the Augustinian conceptualization of the City of God and the City of Man, Hart argues that politics should focus on the material and physical world and the church should focus solely on the spiritual Kingdom that is to come. Christianity, he posits, relates only to the spiritual realm and therefore cannot inform the organization of society, such as the endorsement of a certain polity, or sanction government programs, such as social-welfare reform. Christians, he believes, are called to live perpetually hyphenated lives in which they constantly struggle with their identities and responsibilities as Christians and as citizens. However, Hart makes a distinction between the individual social action that Jesus asks of his followers and official church support of political social justice programs that seemingly destroys the transcendent quality of Christianity.
The book contains nine chapters, each analyzing a facet of the relationship between church and state in American history. Hart provides thorough historical context, illustrates the various interpretations of each issue and proposes his argument in comparison to previous opinions. Hart discredits the supposition that the fundamental ideas of liberty and rights in American democracy were rooted in Christianity, specifically New England Puritanism and Calvinism. He maintains that Christian denominations had no political motives and that religious principles were not integral to the basis of American government though they had a definite influence on society. He denounces the revivalist movements for their blatant endorsement of democracy that crossed the line between the responsibilities of church and state. In his analysis of more recent examples, Hart discusses parochial education controversies and criticizes the compassionate conservative movement for tying Christian duty with political activism, thus replacing the church's higher spiritual duties with the more mundane and ultimately less important matters of the material world.
Since his opinions counter the social teachings of numerous Protestant denominations as well as the social doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, Hart admits that his ideas are more suggestions than assertions. Therefore, he does not defend the theological basis for his suggestions, since other Christian denominations base their counter-arguments on different doctrine. Though unorthodox, Hart's new perspective is strong enough to contend with the previously established views of church and state and worth serious consideration.
Preaching to the choir?  Jan 9, 2007
I am a Secular Humanist who is alarmed by the idea that government policy should be dictated by religious belief. The author's thesis is that religious persons should be concerned as well. I thought that the book was well written, but I doubt that it will convince those who want to remove the Bill of Rights from our courts so as to make room for the Ten Commandments.

Darryl Hart points out that this nation was not, in fact, established on a theological foundation. Furthermore, dynamiting the dam between church and state is an unpredictable affair, fraught with the potential for unintended consequences. It might do as much harm to

Will this persuade those who want to reduce abortion and the use of birth control? Who think that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice? Who believe that the Universe is 6,000 years old? I suspect not.

Can Christianity be used for political and social ends?  Nov 6, 2006
A SECULAR FAITH: WHY CHRISTIANITY FAVORS THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE outlines the foundations of a long-standing argument - and the divide between religious and secular America, which has been particularly pointed over the last few decades. Can Christianity be used for political and social ends? A SECULAR FAITH questions this approach and provides documentation of political and religious rivalries over the years.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch

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