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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (316 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Steven Waldman Narrator: David Colacc Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The culture wars have distorted the dramatic story of how Americans came to worship freely. Many activists on the right maintain that the United States was founded as a “Christian nation.” Many on the left contend that the Founders were secular or deist and that the First Amendment was designed to boldly separate church and state throughout the land. None of these claims are true, argues Beliefnet.com editor in chief Steven Waldman.

With refreshing objectivity, Waldman narrates the real story of how our nation’s founders forged a new approach to religious liberty, a revolutionary formula that promoted faith—by leaving it alone. The spiritual custody battle over the Founding Fathers and the role of religion in America continues today. Waldman provocatively argues that neither side in the culture war has accurately depicted the true origins of the First Amendment. He sets the record straight, revealing the real history of religious freedom to be dramatic, unexpected, paradoxical, and inspiring.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Steven Waldman, a veteran journalist and cofounder of Beliefnet.com, a religious web site, surveys the convictions and legacy of the founders clearly and fairly, with a light touch but a careful eye.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Enlightening…wise and engaging on many levels…Waldman finds a middle ground between those who think of the Founders as apostles in powdered wigs and those who assert, equally inaccurately, that the Founders believed religion had no place in politics.”


  • “[An] engaging, well-researched study…Waldman produces a thoughtful and remarkably balanced account of religion in early America.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Well-wrought, well-written, and well-reasoned—a welcome infusion of calm good sense into a perennially controversial and relevant subject.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Adrian Carpio | 2/16/2014

    " I use this book in discussing faith and the founding of the country with my middle school history classes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Tony | 1/28/2014

    " Good backgrounder on faith in America. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Daniel | 1/7/2014

    " This book should be required reading in all U.S. high schools. Everybody seems to think they know exactly what the Founders had in mind when it comes to relations between Church and State, but you may find out different if you read this book. Waldman examines the lives, philosophies, and religious beliefs of the Founders most responsible for the Constitution and the First Amendment. What I learned is that both today's Right and Left Wings get some of it correct, but also misunderstand a lot. This is a clear-headed book that doesn't let ideologues get away with pointing fingers at opponents and claiming they're entirely wrong, and I like that a lot! :-D "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Linda | 12/17/2013

    " I have been eagerly waiting to read this book since I heard the author Steve Waldman give an interview on "Fresh Air" on NPR. I've only read the introduction and I'm already exicted to read the rest. For anyone who's disillusioned with the Conservative Christian Right in today's politics, I'd highly recommend reading this book. The author takes us back to what the "Founding Fathers" actually meant and their own spiritual beliefs that influenced their decision-making. "

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