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Publisher's Summary

"A slender but thoroughly argued case for reinforcing the wall between church and state.... A stern warning that those who push for the intrusion of religion into public life do so at the peril of both." (Kirkus Reviews

The First Amendment to the US Constitution codified the principle that the government should play no role in favoring or supporting any religion, while allowing free exercise of all religions (including unbelief). More than two centuries later, the results from this experiment are overwhelming: The separation of church and state has shielded the government from religious factionalism, and the United States boasts a diverse religious culture unmatched anywhere in the world. 

In Solemn Reverence, Randall Balmer, one of the premier historians of religion in America, reviews both the history of the separation of church and state as well as the various attempts to undermine that wall of separation. Despite the fact that the First Amendment and the separation of church and state has served the nation remarkably well, he argues, its future is by no means assured. 

©2021 Randall Balmer (P)2021 Truth to Power

Critic Reviews

"This moving and sprightly book is filled with backstories from America's struggle for religious freedom that I'll bet you have never heard before...a brilliant scholar's telling insights on the right way for church, state and society to interact." (E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Code Red and Why the Right Went Wrong

"This insightful and timely study highlights significant ideas and events related to the separation of church and state in the US from the colonial era to the present. Amid relentless debates and frequent misunderstandings on the subject then and now, Solemn Reverence sets the historical record straight." (Bill J. Leonard, Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and Church History Emeritus at Wake Forest University) 

"This truth-telling book is the most succinct account now available of the history of government's relation to religion in the United States. If you must read only one book on this exceptionally important topic, this new work by the distinguished historian of American religion, Randall Balmer is the one to read." (David A. Hollinger, University of California, Berkeley, and author of After Cloven Tongues of Fire

"Solemn Reverence is what we need right now: an antidote to the persistent threat of Christian Nationalism. Randall Balmer gives us an accessible and timely reminder of our country's powerful, if far from perfect, religious liberty history. It is a reminder of the wisdom and success of the separation of church and state." (Holly Hollman, general counsel at BJC, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) 

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