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!From the founding of Virginia to the passage of the Bill of Rights, the role of the First Amendment's religion clauses has never been clearly defined. A thorough examination of America's developing ideas on religious liberty. The First Freedoms presents a bold new interpretation of the Church-State context of colonial and revolutionary America.
Is government forbidden to assist all religions equally, as the Supreme Court has held? Or does the First Amendment merely ban exclusive aid to one religion, as critics of the Court assert? The First Freedoms studies the church-state context of colonial and revolutionary America to present a bold new reading of the historical meaning of the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Synthesizing and interpreting a wealth of evidence from the founding of Virginia to the passage of the Bill of Rights, including everything published in America before 1791, Thomas Curry traces America's developing ideas on religious liberty and offers the most extensive investigation ever of the historical origins and background of the First Amendment's religion clauses.
"Carefully rooted in the historical setting....Not only historians but also judges and lawyers should consult this book."--American Historical Review
"A balanced and insightful survey."--North Carolina Historical Review
"The writing is clear; the arguments are carefully crafted; the conclusions are judiciously stated. There are flashes of humor throughout....This is a superb and important book that deserves a wide audience."--The William and Mary Quarterly
"Will be immensely useful as a summary of how religious institutions and governments interacted throughout the century and a half of colonial experience."--Reviews in American History
"[An] excellent new book."--Church & State