A Perfect Freedom
Cambridge University Press edition now $55.00 !
The literature on the evolution of religious liberty in the United States has largely forgotten Pennsylvania, focusing instead on the histories of New England and Virginia. But Pennsylvania developed a unique tradition of religious freedom long before the Great Awakening and the rise of pietism, which historians often cite as the major influences on the separation of church and state. At the colony's founding in the 1680s William Penn and the settlers institutionalized religious toleration and separation of church and state. After the American Revolution, Pennsylvania served as the principal model for the provision of religious liberty in the other states and the federal government.
Using a wide variety of sources—legal documents, church records, sermons, political tracts, diaries, newspapers, and government records—this book traces Pennsylvania's distinctive religious and political development, how it has influenced the nation and how, in turn, the nation has impacted upon it. The book covers the ongoing discussions about pacifism, rights for Jews and blacks, prayer in public schools, Sunday legislation, and other religious topics from William Penn's time through to World War II. It demonstrates how Pennsylvania developed a tradition of actively promoting religion that, after World War 11, resulted in U.S. Supreme Court rulings that cited the state for violations of First Amendment rights.
This book will be of interest to American political, social, church, and legal historians, and anyone interested in policy issues involving the separation of church and state.