The Lustre of Our Country: The American Experience of Religious Freedom (英語) ハードカバー – 1998/6
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This work offers a fresh approach to a freedom that is often taken for granted in the United States, yet is one of the strongest and proudest elements of American culture: religious freedom. In this book, Judge John T. Noonan asserts that freedom of religion, as James Madison conceived it, is an American invention previously unknown to any nation on earth. The book demonstrates how the idea of religious liberty is central to the American experience and to American influence around the world. Noonan's book is a history of the idea of religious liberty and its relationship with the law. He begins with an intellectual autobiography, describing his own religious and legal training. After setting the stage with autobiography, Noonan turns to history, with each chapter written in a new voice. One chapter takes the form of a catechism (questions and answers), presenting the history of the idea of religious freedom in Christianity and the American colonies. Another chapter on James Madison argues that Madison's support of religious freedom was not purely secular but rather the outcome of his own religious beliefs. A fictional sister of Alexis de Toqueville writes, contrary to her brother's work, that the US government is very closely tied to religion. Other chapters offer straightforward considerations of constitutional law. Throughout the book, Noonan shows how the free exercise of religion led to profound changes in American law - he discusses abolition, temperance, and civil rights - and how the legal notion of religious liberty influenced revolutionary France, Japan, and Russia, as well as the Catholic Church during Vatican II. The book aims to be a celebration of religious freedom - a personal statement on what the author considers America's greatest moral contribution to the world.
"A witty and wide-ranging book . . . "The Lustre of Our Country is a Catholic's paean to the greatness of a liberal American tradition, but more important, it is a judge's and scholar's tour through a complex legal and religious history. Noonan has the mix of intellectual chutzpah and humility to make it a tour de force."--"New York Times Book Review商品の説明をすべて表示する
""Public argument is not the same as personal conviction. But public argument that employs religious belief for its own ends, that makes `an Engine' of religion, precisely parallels the exploitation of religion by government that JM denounced in the memorial as wickedness."
It does not seem that the author desired to focus on the broad background for such thinking. It is a frankly Masonic balance that is described in that excellent line. And the considerable presence of Masons amongst the Founding community is the likely genesis of the assumptions, whether the writer was attracted to actually joining the fraternity or not. It is an attitude, and it had a source. Freemasonry, plain and simple.
"By the first century A.D. there is in the Mediterranean world a religionEhat carries the concepts of a God, living, distinct from and superior to any human being, society, or state; of obligations to that God, distinct form and superior to any society or state; of authorized teachers who can voice these obligations and judge any society or state; of an inner voice of reason that is one way God speaks as well as by His authorized teachers. According to these concepts as taught by this religion, each person, individually and not as part of a family, tribe, or nation, will have to account to God as Judge for every thought and deed. Collectively, these concepts are at the core of liberty of conscience and liberty of religion."
Noonan then turns to history. In the Introduction to the book, Noonan put forward the argument that "free exerciseEs an American inventionEever before 1791 was there a tablet of the law, a legal text guaranteeing to all a freedom from religious oppression by the national legislature." Noonan now goes on to demonstrate the evidence for this claim. He traces the settlement of New England, the religious oppression of the Quakers and the Baptists, and then tells how religious liberty came about from these early conflicts. Noonan writes that:
Plymouth and the Bay Colony provided an ideal and a rhetoricEhode IslandEnd PennsylvaniaEhowed that organized government could exist without supporting a churchEand] Maryland provided the phrase [free exercise] that is at the core of the First Amendment. All four colonies demonstrated that the Church of England could tolerate other forms of Christian worship and so prepared the ground for the English Act of Toleration.
Noonan demonstrates that it was the pluralism of the colonies and the diversity of religious sects that contributed in large part to the development of religious freedom in early America. This "proliferation of sects" gave colonists "a variety of alternatives to the established" churches, which "created political constituencies that politicians had to consider."
The book then turns to the legacy of James Madison and how he has so influenced our views on religious freedom. Noonan gives a mini-biographical treatment to Madison, describing his early religious training and somewhat sudden entry into colonial politics during a critical time in our nation's history. The reader cannot help but to sense the author's deep affinity for Madison and his legacy. Noonan gives special treatment to Madison's role in crafting the American concept of church and state matters.
Noonan then goes on to describe early 19th century American church and state relations through a fictional sister of Alexis de Toqueville. Contrary to Toqueville's, Democracy In America, Noonan argues that church and state interacted in a manner that was not exactly in keeping with the Madisonian ideal. Government at this time was very closely involved with religion and supported it in a number of ways that could be construed as respecting an establishment. Noonan also describes the abolitionist movement and how this crusade was firmly rooted in American Christianity, at least the Northern variety.
Noonan focuses a large portion of his book dissecting and examining the legal aspect of church and state matters and religious freedom as a whole. He keeps the readers attention by a fictional dialogue between 'Harvardman' and 'Mr. Simple.' There are several interesting observations made by Noonan during this quite extensive examination of jurisprudence relating to church and state matters. One of the most intriguing is:
"Ceremonial deism was the court's description of prayers by a legislature, prayer at the opening of a court, and of 'In God We Trust' imprinted on the coinagesEust as Secular Humanism was nonreligious practice that was called a religion, ceremonial deism was religious practice that was not to be called a religion. The court created a kind of American Shinto, a state religion that for establishment purposes was a non-religion because its purposes were secular."
One could only conclude after reading such an argument that the Supreme Court has indeed established a religion appropriate for government support at the exclusion of all others. Is this not what Madison and others warned us would happen if the state took it upon itself to delve so deeply into religious matters as our courts recently have? Noonan argues his point but at the same time allows the reader enough leeway to decide on his own.
The book concludes with four examples of how the American concept of religious liberty has impacted the world EFrance, Japan, Russia, and the Roman Catholic Church. The final example brings us back to Noonan's own beginnings, or where the first part of the book left off. In 1965 the Roman Catholic Church formally adopted, after centuries of persecution of 'heretic' sects, religious toleration. Beyond the significance this event served for the author, it provides an appropriate closing to the topic of religious freedom and certainly a monumental one in human history as a whole.