Believers, Thinkers, and Founders: How We Came to Be One Nation Under God  -     By: Kevin Seamus Hasson
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Believers, Thinkers, and Founders: How We Came to Be One Nation Under God

Image Entertainment / 2013 / Hardcover

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In Believers, Thinkers and Founders: How We Came to be One Nation Under God, Kevin Seamus Hasson provides a resolution to the age-old dispute surrounding the relationship of religion and state.

He proposes a solution straight from the founding: the government acknowledges the existence of God who is the source of our rights philosophically but not religiously. This idea of the "Philosophers' God" is a conception of God based on reason not on faith. Recognizing the distinction between the creator of the Declaration of Independence and the God of our faith traditions, we may be able to move past the culture wars over religion that have plagued the country.

In this book, Hasson examines the idea of the "Philosophers' God" while looking at a host of issues - including the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer at public events, and prayer in public schools - as he demonstrates how we can still be one nation under God.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: Image Entertainment
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0307718182
ISBN-13: 9780307718181
Availability: In Stock

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Author Bio

KEVIN SEAMUS HASSON is the founder and president emeritus of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonpartisan, interfaith, public-interest law firm that protects the free expression of all religious traditions. Hasson is the author of The Right to be Wrong: Ending the Culture War over Religion in America. He holds a law degree and a master's in theology from the University of Notre Dame, and lives with his wife, Mary, and their children in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Editorial Reviews

"This book should make one proud of America’s historic achievement in creating a society where different faiths not only co-exist, but flourish, in relative harmony.  Seamus Hasson traces the historical, philosophical and political evolution of that hard-won achievement with lively examples, and with all the brilliance that has made him a peerless defender of religious freedom.  With freedom of religion currently under assault at home and abroad,  his book should awaken persons of all faiths and no faith to the need for renewed vigor in the protection of this fundamental human right." --Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University   

"President Washington said it; President Lincoln reinforced it: Governments have a duty to affirm the existence of God. Why? Seamus Hasson in his new book gives the best reason I have ever encountered: Because in so doing governments limit their own power, and put themselves under undeceivable judgment." --Michael Novak, author of Writing from Left to Right

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  1. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Believers, Thinkers, and Founders a review
    June 26, 2016
    The Patriot Principle
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    What is the difference of pledging allegiance to one nation under God, versus one nation under Jesus Christ? Is liberty, as the framers of the Constitution understood it, possible without an acknowledgment of a divine authority which bestows such liberty? These are just two of the questions that Kevin Seamus Hasson addresses in his new book, Believers, Thinkers, and Founders. [1]

    I had the pleasure the past few days of reading this book, and interviewing Seamus, as he prefers to be called, before writing this review. The author was pleasant and engaging, and his passion for his work shines through both in his writing and in conversation. Seamus is a retired attorney who, in 1993, founded the now famous Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute with a mission to protect the free expression of all faiths.[2] He served as the organizations president until his retirement in 2011, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors as President Emeritus. He received a B.S. in Theology and Economics, an M.A. in Theology, and a Juris Doctorate from Notre Dame, and holds three honorary doctorate degrees.He[3]

    Believers, Thinkers, and Founders is an easy-to-read book that tackles some very big issues. The book was written with the goal that people without degrees would be able to engage the arguments around religious liberty in America.[4] Beginning with the story of atheist activist Michael Newdows court battle to remove under God from the Pledge of Allegiance, the book then takes an excursus into a discussion of two groups commonly found in debates over the relationship between the state and religion. These groups, called pilgrims and park rangers, represent the two extremes that would either permit only their faith to be practiced publicly (Pilgrims), or contend that truth claims about God no matter how harmless have no place in public culture.[5][6] He then proceeds to offer a middle-road between the two extremes one that argues of the basis of historical court cases, the basic idea of liberty and its source (Chapter 4), the history of the Founders and the framing of the Constitution (Chapters 7 and 10), and the philosophical approaches that influenced those early founders and proto-founders (Chapters 6, 8 and 9).[7]

    There is an over-arching idea that really stuck with me after reading the book:

    This is the distinction between making a philosophical statement and making a religious statement. Seamus contends that national statements, such as In God we trust or one nation under God or endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights are philosophical statements which not only are appropriate in the public sphere of a nation founded on the idea of religious liberty, but are essential for a right understanding and protection of that very liberty.

    When asked what he wanted readers to know about his book, Seamus wanted to encourage that the book not be misread as his putting up a golden-calf in his arguments for what he refers to as the philosophers God.[8] This idea that an understanding of the existence of a good God who endows men with liberty could be taken by some (especially the pilgrims) as a watering-down of Christian truth. However, Seamus contends, and I agree, that this has always been the position of Christian (and much secular) scholarship, reaching clear back to the apostle Pauls preaching in Athens, where he engaged the philosophers of his day on their own terms.[9]

    Believers, Thinkers, and Founders is an excellent book with enough scholarship to make it a formidable tool in discussions of faith in the public square, and enough simple clarity to make it accessible to those outside formal academia. I highly recommend it.

    [1] Kevin Seamus Hasson, Believers, Thinkers, and Founders, (New York, Image, 2016).

    [2] http://www.becketfund.org/our-mission, (accessed June 22, 2016).

    [3] http://www.becketfund.org/staff-members/kevin-j-seamus-hasson, (accessed June 22, 2016).

    [4] Kevin Seamus Hasson, interview (conducted June 22, 2016.)

    [5] The terms pilgrims and park rangers are taken from Hassons earlier book, The Right to Be Wrong, (New York, Image, 2012).

    [6] Hasson, Believers, Thinkers, and Founders, 9-13.

    [7] These divisions are my own, and not necessarily the authors.

    [8] The idea of the philosophers God is explored in depth in Chapter 6, then referenced throughout the remainder of the book.

    [9] Acts 17.

    The Patriot Principle FTC Disclaimer



    In accordance with FTC guidelines for bloggers, I would like to be clear that many of the books (including this one) reviewed on The Patriot Principle are provided by the publisher/author free of charge. I am not compensated for my reviews. All of my opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by the way I obtain my materials. I am not required to post a good review in order to obtain the book, nor will I give a good review if I think the book is not good.

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