August 3, 2009 · 6:30 PM
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The next book for SacFAN discussion will be Susan Jacoby's "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism." The history covered in this book is an important and very compelling one, especially as "faith-based" approaches to public policy issues are still brought to the political fore, including an expansion of the newly-named Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. For example, check out this article, "A New Role for Religion in Obama's White House", from US News & World Report in early July.
The total reading is about 100 pages. If you would like to lead a chapter discussion, please let me know.
Chapter 1 -- Revolutionary Secularism
Chapter 2 -- The Age of Reason and Unreason
Chapter 3 -- Lost Connections: Anticlericalism, Abolitionism, and Feminism
From the book's cover:
"At a time when the separation of church and state is under attack as never before, Freethinkers offers a powerful defense of the secularist heritage that gave Americans the first government in the world founded not on the authority of religion but on the bedrock of human reason. In impassioned, elegant prose, celebrated author Susan Jacoby traces more than two hundred years of secularist activism, beginning with the fierce debate over the omission of God from the Constitution. Moving from nineteenth-century abolitionism and suffragism through the twentieth century's civil liberties, civil rights, and feminist movements, Freethinkers illuminates the neglected achievements of secularists who, allied with tolerant believers, have led the battle for reform in the past and today.
"Rich with such iconic figures as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Paine, and the once-famous Robert Green Ingersoll, Freethinkers restores to history the passionate humanists who struggled against those who would undermine the combination of secular government and religious liberty that is the glory of the American system."
"The great virtue of Susan Jacoby's book is that it succeeds so well in its own original intent: showing that secularism, agnosticism and atheism are as American as cherry pie." -- Christopher Hitchens, The Washington Post