The Garden and the Wilderness

The Garden and the Wilderness : Church and State in America to 1789

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In this well-researched, informative history, David Dean Bowlby examines church and state in the American colonies and the early national period up to the framing of the religion clauses of the First Amendment by the First Congress. Bowlby describes the history of the church and state up to that time as one involving the struggle of religious minorities against church establishments, with increasingly vocal calls for the free exercise of religion, liberty of conscience, and disestablishment. He shows that when the religion clauses were framed, people feared that the establishment of religion would lead to the domination of one particular denomination or sect, resulting in compulsory church taxes, obligatory attendance at religious services, and adherence to orthodox doctrines and liturgy. By focusing on the relationship between religious establishments and free exercise, he makes the case that the establishment clause and free exercise of religion must be taken together as a guarantee of religious liberty, because where a religious establishment was present the full and free exercise of religion was not.
It was this concern that prompted the prohibitive language of the clauses-the Founders meant to protect the latter by forbidding the former.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 232 pages
  • 150 x 224 x 22mm | 339.99g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0739184237
  • 9780739184233

Table of contents

Preface Chapter 1: The Old World Background Chapter 2: Seventeenth Century New England Chapter 3: The Seventeenth Century South Chapter 4: The Middle Colonies in the Seventeenth Century Chapter 5: Developments in the Eighteenth Century Chapter 6: The Revolution & New State Constitutions Chapter 7: The Conventions & First Congress Conclusion Bibliography
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Review quote

Bowlby (Motlow State Community College, TN) offers a penetrating examination of the history of church and state relations in America from the colonial years through the construction of the First Amendment. Framing his discussion with the Supreme Court's decision in Everson v. Board of Education in mind, Bowlby argues that both those advocating a strict separation of church and state doctrine and those advocating an accomodationist or nonpreferentialist approach too often base their arguments on theories and ideologies rather than on actual historical evidence. To correct for that deficiency, Bowlby offers a compelling, though not exhaustive, review of church and state relations in early America. Beginning by evaluating broad historical developments in thinking about church and state relationships, Bowlby proceeds by analyzing colonial charters, the diversification of religion in America, the role of religion in the Revolution, state constitutions, and the debates at the constitutional convention and state ratification conventions to gain a clearer picture of the real story of church and state relations. Bowlby concludes that the historical record does not support the broad interpretation favored by the majority in Everson. Summing Up: Recommended. CHOICE The Garden and the Wilderness is a comprehensive but accessible account of the impact of religious diversity on the development of religious liberty and disestablishment in early America. It will be a handy resource for students, scholars, and others interested in this important topic. -- Steven K. Green, Fred H. Paulus Professor of Law, Willamette University and former Legal Director and Special Counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State Bowlby provides a very useful and largely dispassionate summary of church-state relations from the colonial period through the framing of the First Amendment. The strength of his work is its breadth and objectivity. Bowlby largely provides a descriptive account until the conclusion where he does engage in analysis of the Court's use of history and its reliance on Jefferson's "wall of separation" metaphor. Bowlby is certainly not alone in his criticism of the Court's use of history in church-state cases. Nonetheless, he sees history as important as a guide to understanding the religion clauses and he makes a relatively compelling case that the religion clauses represented a broad consensus view that religious liberty was the ultimate concern and that no-establishment was a means to that end...Bowlby should be commended for making a valuable contribution to the extensive scholarship on American church-state relations and doing so in a thorough and fair-minded fashion. Law and Politics Book Review
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About David Dean Bowlby

David Dean Bowlby is assistant professor of history and political science at Motlow.
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