Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Book Review - Pulpit & Nation

I won a copy of Pulpit & Nation: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America from the author and I was interested in reading this. The book explores the relationship between Religion and Politics in the decades leading up to and immediately following the formation of the United States of America. When thinking about the role of religion with regards to the American Constitution and Independence, most people just think of the "separation of Church and State." Even that simply stated notion is laced with all sorts of intricacies that go beyond the face value.

In the book, McBride spends some time exploring the concept of 'separation of Church and State.' Even more than that he dives deeply into the nature of Religion and Politics and the way the two interact during that era. He shows many, many ways in which "Church and State" were heavily entangled during the birth of our Nation. From prayers offered during political meetings to preachers on the battlefield to studying the sermons given around the countryside, the book shows that religion played a very important part in the way America traveled the path to Independence and how our political landscape developed in subsequent years.

I found it very interesting to see the way that political leaders manipulated religious agendas to further their own aspirations. It was enlightening to read about the way religious leaders advocated for political change through sermons, essays and other means. In present day, some people try very hard to push for an ultra clear delineation of a "separation of Church and State." What people don't realize (and what this book helped to illustrate) is that there never has been a full separation of Church and State and it's difficult to accurately deduce exactly what our founders meant when they discussed this policy.

This book takes a well balanced view of the part religion in general (and Christianity in specific) played in the establishment of the United States. In spite of the "separation of Church and State" policy that we can all rattle off, the reality of America's birth is far more nuanced and is worth pondering. By exploring that historical interaction, it sheds some light on original intent but also shows that we should be wary of the ways that platforms (such as religion) can be manipulated for political means. This is a very well researched and well-presented exploration into a sticky subject that continues to spread tendrils of influence in our modern political arena.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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