The Lustre of Our Country

John T. Noonan, Jr., Author University of California Press $39.95 (436p) ISBN 978-0-520-20997-8
Noonan travels America's long and uncertain road to religious tolerance in this book. Although religious freedom is often taken for granted as an integral part of the American experience, Noonan, a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit, argues that this liberty has never been, and may never be, unthreatened. Through an examination of the history of the ideal of the separation of church and state, Noonan concludes that, despite efforts to the contrary, government affects religion and religious belief inevitably informs civic decision making. Wide-ranging chapters include an account of James Madison's struggles to see religious rights protected by the Constitution and an examination of the ways that Durkheim's assertion that any society must worship itself conflicts with the notion of the separation of church and state. An imaginative and thoroughly researched volume, Noonan's book demonstrates that government has influenced religion in America as surely as spiritual belief has shaped government. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 436 pages - 978-0-520-22491-9
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 436 pages - 978-0-520-92552-6
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