Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

Founding Faith Launches This Week!

My book goes on sale Tuesday! Here’s what’s going on to celebrate and self-promote:
On this blog, I’m going to lay out some of the most controversial of the ideas and also the Top Ten Founding Fathers Quotes on Religion.
Monday night we launch the Founding Faith Archive, an interactive collection of the most riveting or important letters and documents from the Founders on religious freedom and their personal spiritual beliefs.
I’ll be running an online book group starting next week. Everyone is welcome, whether you agree with the book or not. Sign up here.
Monday night we’ll be highlighting an excerpt from the book, about Jefferson’s angry religious views.
Of course you can learn more about the book, or buy it, over here.
And in the off chance you’re interested in hearing me on radio or TV, or reading reviews, I’ll update you on that too. (First two are in: insightful reviews from Jon Meacham in Newsweek and David Dirda in The Washington Post Book World).

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posted March 11, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Mr. Waldman–I’ve been listening to you discuss your book with Terry Gross on her show, “Fresh Air”. Very interesting and very consistent with what I know about the historical evidence. However, you made one statement that had me shouting “aaagggh” at my radio, something to the effect that Thomas Jefferson’s spiritual beliefs would make him a supporter of the modern “Intelligent Design” movement. This is sooooo wrong! Jefferson was what we call today a “theistic evolutionist”, a person who believes that God created the universe, Earth, and life on Earth, using means that can be perceived and understood by studying the natural world. His position would be consistent with that of most major religions today, e.g. the Catholic Church. The “Intelligent Design” movement is quite different–it is an intellectually bankrupt socio/political movement that is trying to replace modern scientific teaching with religiously-inspired magical stories. It is merely the latest version of what used to be called “Scientific Creationsism”, and is at best a form of pseudoscience. Jefferson was far too educated in real science to fall for such a ploy. Please look into “Intelligent Design” carefully and apply to it the same critical faculties you have used in your writings on history.

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Mi Gur

posted March 12, 2008 at 1:16 am

I enjoyed your interview with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air”. I wonder if you are planning on public appearance – would love to come, there are so many important aspects this book is touching. Any schedule, please?

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posted March 17, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Mr. Waldman,
I too heard your “Fresh Aire” interviw and was quite confused by your suggestion that conservatives are trying to twist the meaning of “separation of church and state”. I would rather imagaine that someone with the historical knowledge you seem to possess would understand that that phrase is found nowhere in the constitution or any other founding document – but is instead simply found in a letter Jefferson wrote the Danbury(sp?)Baptists assuring them that the State would not interfere in their church’s business or establish a state church.
The original intent, of course, has been twisted to imply today that someone with a religious mindset has no business bringing their beliefs into the political sphere – which is not at all Jefferson’s intention in the letter.
I imagine you’vr read Jefferson’s letter – so I am confused as to your attempt in the interview to make it seem that conservatives are trying to twist this issue for their own purposes when the exact opposite seems to be true. It would be helpful if you could point out why I am wrong or clarify what you meant in the interview.

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Dave Stratton

posted April 2, 2008 at 10:09 pm

I LOVE founding faith. It is an EXCELLENT exploration of the birth of religious freedom in this country. I have sold several copies for you and I will sell more.
Just one fact check: Jerry Falwell was not a Southern Baptist in 1979
(p. 191). He was an Independent Baptist who, in 1979, was not at all fond of Southern Baptists to put it mildly. It was not until well after fundamentalists completed their takeover of the SBC that Falwell became a Southern Baptist and then only nominally. I think Thomas Road sent their first check to Southern Baptist causes in the late 90’s.
Thanks for the book. Great work.

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