God of Liberty
A Religious History of the American Revolution
By Thomas S. Kidd
Basic Books, Hardcover, 9780465002351, 304pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
List Price: $26.95*
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A top historian narrates the crucial role of religion in shaping the American Revolution and the formation of the Republic
Thomas S. Kidd is associate professor of history at Baylor University. The author of several books on American religious history, he lives in Woodway, Texas.
Rodney Stark, author of God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades
“A truly ‘revolutionary’ book, in all the right ways.”
George Marsden, author of Jonathan Edwards: A Life
“Thomas Kidd does an excellent job of providing a readable and notably comprehensive account of the varied roles that the religion played in the era of the American Revolution.”
“This deeply researched, clearly organized, and well written book illuminates a complex and often controversial history. The Revolutionary and Constitutional periods were neither ‘Christian’ nor ‘godless’ as these terms are used in modern polemics. Instead, patriots and leaders of the early United States united to support disestablishment and common principles about the need for virtue to insure republican freedoms, despite holding different personal beliefs. Thomas Kidd is a remarkably sure-footed guide through this treacherous historical terrain.”
Harry S. Stout, Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Religious History at Yale University“At last, a history of religion and the American Revolution that addresses the revolutionary war in substantial detail. Thomas Kidd brilliantly examines the role of religion in the Revolution, and explores the intersection of religion and the Republic, neither of which can be fully understood without reference to the other. Kidd demonstrates in persuasive detail how the idea of religious liberty informed the meaning of the Republic at its deepest level.” Peter A. Lillback, President of The Providence Forum and author of George Washington’s Sacred Fire“Thomas Kidd offers an important critique of the mainstream interpretations of the American Revolution. God of Liberty reveals the central role that the Christian faith played in the revolutionary era. The surprising partnership of devout believers and deistic doubters to secure America’s victory makes for fascinating reading.” Kirkus
“[A]n important contribution to American religious history.” Library Journal
“Kidd argues that religion was inextricably linked to the American Revolutionary movement, his book will prove of interest both to readers in American Colonial religion and Colonial history, with his inclusion of unfamiliar sources extending the appeal…” Christian Century
“With impressive command of the primary sources and deft historical analysis, Kidd has produced an indispensable survey of religious life during the Revolutionary era… all the more remarkable for its breadth… One of the many virtues of this book is that Kidd is a careful and judicious historian… he points out—correctly—the errors of both present-day secularists on the left, who insist that the founders barred religious voices from political discourse, and the church-state separation deniers on the right. The lesson of American history is that although church and state are institutionally separate, morality and freedom are seldom at odds and that, in fact, they are mutually reinforcing.” Washington TimesChoice “Kidd delineates a religious consensus that emerged to propel the American revolt and shape the resulting republic…a well-substantiated treatment.”“Thought-provoking, meticulously researched… a salutary reminder of the role religious belief played in the founding of our country. It is all the more valuable because that story clearly is in danger of being expunged from the historical record or even twisted into an example of the political hypocrisy of a time when God was often invoked but allegedly ignored.” Booklist
“Kidd directs his magnifying glass on a rare slice of the American Revolution: its religious aspects. . . . After reading this, some may wonder why religion is so shortchanged in other Revolutionary treatments.” Christianity Today
“Balanced without being bland, lucid in the telling, Thomas Kidd’s chronicle corrects the excesses both of those who overstate the degree to which America was founded as a ‘Christian nation’ and of those who seek to minimize the formative role of religion in the new nation’s character.” The Oklahoman “Full of information about the religious situation of the colonial, revolutionary and early periods of America. The religious and political situation was as complicated then as now. . . . highly recommended to those interested in religion's effect on the early days of America.” Christian Book Previews
“Kidd delves into the lives of religious reformers, political leaders, and military commanders to provide a background of the American Revolution in a more focused and unique perspective. It is a breath a fresh air from the clichéd historical textbooks that only address broad themes of the time period. . . . God of Liberty is an enlightening book, full of fresh perspectives and well-explained points.”
The Weekly Standard“[An] eloquently argued study. . . . Kidd is careful not to adopt an explicitly ‘Christian nation’ view of the role of religious faith, especially evangelical Christian faith, in the nation’s founding. He demonstrates effectively the variety of faiths among Americans of the revolutionary era, including an increasingly visible community of Jews. But he is unequivocal in stating that the majority of Americans at the time were Christian believers of some kind or other, and that the evangelical component of them (Patrick Henry, for example) played a formative role in creating the new republic.” Books & Culture “Reckoning with the Revolutionary era’s many religious dimensions is the mission undertaken, and carried off marvelously, in Thomas Kidd’s God of Liberty…God of Liberty effortlessly straddles the divide between scholarly and popular history, uniting academic rigor with a pleasing readability. It deserves, and hopefully will receive, an audience well beyond the ivory tower…[an] unfailing fair-minded book.”