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Public Schools and the Wall of Separation

The famous phrase “wall of separation of church and state” today enjoys the status of legal precedent, but here’s a curious fact. The phrase comes from the letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Connecticut Baptists who feared that state politicians would suppress them. When the Baptists received the letter, however, they didn’t celebrate and publicize the statement. They didn’t even record it in the minutes of their proceedings. “They pretend it never existed.” Continue Reading »

We Need More First Amendment Freedom, Not Less

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote that the answer to objectionable speech “is more speech, not enforced silence.” This seems a most reasonable proposition. If you are offended by someone’s position, you can counter it with your own arguments and expose their error for the world to see and reject. It is a concept that has served our Republic well in the fight for liberty and freedom. Continue Reading »

The Hebrew Republic

Scholars have long recognized that the Bible supplied what Mark Noll has called the “common coinage of the realm” in early America. Eran Shalev of Haifa University thinks that historians have not gone far enough. They have failed to grasp just how, and how deeply, the Bible formed the American imagination. Shalev argues in American Zion that early America was not simply a biblical republic. It was, quite self-consciously, a Hebrew republic. Continue Reading »

We Can’t Be Silent

In 1787, at the age of eighty-one, Benjamin Franklin addressed the Constitutional Convention: “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his . . . . Continue Reading »

The Decline and Rise
of Secular Judaism

In his 1782 book Letters from an American Farmer, John de Crèvecœur asked the most famous and important question in American history: “What then is the American, this new man?” The authentic American leaves behind him “all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new . . . . Continue Reading »

What Lu Lingzi Saw in America

One of the persons the Boston Marathon bombers murdered was Lu Lingzi, a Boston University graduate student from China. From Shenyang, where her parents now mourn the loss of their only child. So far there are two other murder victims, a child named Martin Richard, and the young woman Krystle . . . . Continue Reading »

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