The Last Freedom: Religion from the Public School to the Public Square

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9780691130118: The Last Freedom: Religion from the Public School to the Public Square
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The presidency of George W. Bush has polarized the church-state debate as never before. The Far Right has been emboldened to use religion to govern, while the Far Left has redoubled its efforts to evict religion from public life entirely. Fewer people on the Right seem to respect the church-state separation, and fewer people on the Left seem to respect religion itself--still less its free exercise in any situation that is not absolutely private. In The Last Freedom, Joseph Viteritti argues that there is a basic tension between religion and democracy because religion often rejects compromise as a matter of principle while democracy requires compromise to thrive. In this readable, original, and provocative book, Viteritti argues that Americans must guard against debasing politics with either antireligious bigotry or religious zealotry. Drawing on politics, history, and law, he defines a new approach to the church-state question that protects the religious and the secular alike.


Challenging much conventional opinion, Viteritti argues that the courts have failed to adequately protect religious minorities, that the rights of the religious are under greater threat than those of the secular, and that democracy exacts greater compromises and sacrifices from the religious than it does from the secular. He takes up a wide range of controversies, including the pledge of allegiance, school prayer, school vouchers, evolution, abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, and religious displays on public property.


A fresh and surprising approach to the church-state question, The Last Freedom is squarely aimed at the wide center of the public that is frustrated with the extremes of both the Left and the Right.

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From the Back Cover:

"This book is a thoughtful, deeply informed, and provocative assessment of the role of religion in American public life. Joseph Viteritti brings a wise and nuanced perspective to issues that daily perplex us. With his large knowledge of American history and law, he helps us think through the dilemmas that keep the courts, the public schools, and other institutions tied up in knots about how to deal with the claims of religion. The Last Freedom deserves a large audience."--Diane Ravitch, author of The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn

"Few topics excite so much controversy as the relationship between religion and democracy, and none demand our attention more urgently. In this beautifully written book, Joseph Viteritti offers a rich, historically informed exploration of this important topic. By questioning conventional wisdom and avoiding the clichés of both the Left and the Right, Viteritti has produced an even-handed, original treatment of a volatile subject. This book is sure to be of interest to scholars and citizens concerned about religion's place in America's public life."--Christopher L. Eisgruber, provost of Princeton University

"This is a solid, well-argued, and vigorously written book on an important subject. Most books on religion in the schools and the Constitution are by Constitutional lawyers, and rarely look into the larger questions of the role of religion and religious belief in the United States. That is the special virtue of this book."--Nathan Glazer, professor emeritus, Harvard University

About the Author:

Joseph P. Viteritti is the Blanche D. Blank Professor of Public Policy at Hunter College, CUNY. His many books include Choosing Equality: School Choice, the Constitution, and Civil Society.

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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 2007. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The presidency of George W. Bush has polarized the church-state debate as never before. The Far Right has been emboldened to use religion to govern, while the Far Left has redoubled its efforts to evict religion from public life entirely. Fewer people on the Right seem to respect the church-state separation, and fewer people on the Left seem to respect religion itself--still less its free exercise in any situation that is not absolutely private. In The Last Freedom, Joseph Viteritti argues that there is a basic tension between religion and democracy because religion often rejects compromise as a matter of principle while democracy requires compromise to thrive. In this readable, original, and provocative book, Viteritti argues that Americans must guard against debasing politics with either antireligious bigotry or religious zealotry. Drawing on politics, history, and law, he defines a new approach to the church-state question that protects the religious and the secular alike. Challenging much conventional opinion, Viteritti argues that the courts have failed to adequately protect religious minorities, that the rights of the religious are under greater threat than those of the secular, and that democracy exacts greater compromises and sacrifices from the religious than it does from the secular. He takes up a wide range of controversies, including the pledge of allegiance, school prayer, school vouchers, evolution, abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, and religious displays on public property. A fresh and surprising approach to the church-state question, The Last Freedom is squarely aimed at the wide center of the public that is frustrated with the extremes of both the Left and the Right. Seller Inventory # AAH9780691130118

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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 2007. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The presidency of George W. Bush has polarized the church-state debate as never before. The Far Right has been emboldened to use religion to govern, while the Far Left has redoubled its efforts to evict religion from public life entirely. Fewer people on the Right seem to respect the church-state separation, and fewer people on the Left seem to respect religion itself--still less its free exercise in any situation that is not absolutely private. In The Last Freedom, Joseph Viteritti argues that there is a basic tension between religion and democracy because religion often rejects compromise as a matter of principle while democracy requires compromise to thrive. In this readable, original, and provocative book, Viteritti argues that Americans must guard against debasing politics with either antireligious bigotry or religious zealotry. Drawing on politics, history, and law, he defines a new approach to the church-state question that protects the religious and the secular alike. Challenging much conventional opinion, Viteritti argues that the courts have failed to adequately protect religious minorities, that the rights of the religious are under greater threat than those of the secular, and that democracy exacts greater compromises and sacrifices from the religious than it does from the secular. He takes up a wide range of controversies, including the pledge of allegiance, school prayer, school vouchers, evolution, abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, and religious displays on public property. A fresh and surprising approach to the church-state question, The Last Freedom is squarely aimed at the wide center of the public that is frustrated with the extremes of both the Left and the Right. Seller Inventory # AAH9780691130118

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