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Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It
Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It
Noah Feldman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005
320 pp., 25.00

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Reviewed by Thomas C. Berg


How Wide the Divide?

A proposal for compromise between "value evangelicals" and "legal secularists" on church-state issues.

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To fellow Christians, I would argue that issues such as Ten Commandments displays in the courthouse and prayers at football games should not receive near the emphasis they do today. We do far more to preserve the vigor and independence of faith-based activity by fighting for strong rights under the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause—an issue Feldman's book sidesteps—and by assuring that the state does not discourage families from the choice of a religious school by denying them otherwise-available education assistance.

Thomas C. Berg is professor of law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota. He is the author of Religion and the Constitution (with Michael McConnell and John Garvey, Aspen Publishers, 2d ed., forthcoming 2006); The State and Religion in a Nutshell (West Publishing, 2d ed., 2004); and more than 50 journal articles on religion, law, and society, as well as nearly 30 briefs in religious freedom cases in the Supreme Court and lower courts. In 1996 he received the Religious Liberty Defender of the Year award from the Christian Legal Society. A longer version of this review will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Christian Lawyer magazine, published by the Christian Legal Society.

Related Elsewhere:

Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem—And What We Should Do About It is available from Amazon.com and other book retailers.

More information is available from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

More about author Noah Feldman is available from his page at New York University School of Law.

More CT articles on church/state issues are available from our Politics & Law page as well as our Ten Commandments page.

For book lovers, our 2005 CT book awards are available online, along with our book awards for 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, and 1997, as well as our Books of the Twentieth Century. For other coverage or reviews, see our Books archive and the weekly Books & Culture Corner.

Books & Culture Corner and Books & Culture's Book of the Week, from Christianity Today sister publication Books & Culture: A Christian Review (want a free trial issue?), appears regularly on Tuesdays at Christianity Today. Earlier editions include:

Poet with Three Heads Talks with King Solomon | Conversation touches on Hebrew parallelism, marriage, and the making of many books. (Aug. 30, 2005)
With God on Our Side | David McCullough's account of the pivotal year 1776 has resonance for Americans in 2005. (July 19, 2005)
The Rich Are Different—and Not So Different—from Us | Think you're burned out on memoirs? Read this book. (June 28, 2005)
A Grief Observed | Exploring the valley of the shadow in two literary lives. (June 13, 2005)
The Mind and Soul of Combat | Perhaps war really is hell. (June 07, 2005)
The Universal Language | If Latin died in our mouths, we'd just stop talking. (May 24, 2005)
At Home in the Dark | The first new book of poems in almost twenty years from Rod Jellema. (May 17, 2005)
"Taken Up in Glory" | The Ascension has been forgotten in many Protestant churches, jettisoning an essential part of the Christian story. (May 10, 2005)
Making Believe | Bedtime stories for grown-ups. (May 03, 2005)
Looking for God on the Holy Mountain | A journey to Mount Athos. (Apr. 25, 2005)
The Words of the Word | Two sharply contrasting perspectives on Bible translation. (April 19, 2005)
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