Demanding Liberty

Brandon J. O’Brien. IVP, $17 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-8308-4528-6
In this enjoyable history, O’Brien (Paul Behaving Badly), content director for the N.Y.C.-based Christian leadership organization Redeemer City to City, proposes that born-again activist Isaac Backus (1724–1806) should be thanked for the development of religious freedom within the United States. Backus, a wealthy Connecticut farmer, moved away from New England Congregationalists for what he considered a lack of piety. As his ideas solidified, Backus worked to eliminate every rule authorities devised to prevent his free exercise of religion. He fought compulsory membership at established churches, the requirement that new denominations be sanctioned by those already accepted, and the denial of tax-exempt status for new churches, which he felt unfairly enshrined state-sanctioned religion. O’Brien provides strong evidence that government and traditional churches have long used each other to maintain authority and illustrates that civil disobedience has been necessary since the Colonial era to advocate for minority rights. Those interested in the origins of America’s policy on religious regulations will enjoy this assured history of the battles Backus fought when freedom of belief was no foregone conclusion. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/26/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
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