This month, Baylor University Press publishes The Constitution of Religious Freedom: God, Politics, and the First Amendment by Dennis J. Goldford. Goldford, Professor of Politics at Drake University in Iowa, argues that the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment do not create a national religious identity, but, instead, create a religious liberty located squarely in the individual. The publisher’s abstract follows:
In a time when the question of American religious identity underlies much political conversation that fills the public square, Dennis Goldford directs his readers to consider the First Amendment. The founding fathers’ words, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” are the constitutional means of ensuring, however imperfectly, the American freedom to stand for something sacred. In his analysis, Goldford ably demonstrates that the very nature of these religion clauses establishes protection not for religion but for religious freedom. The Constitution of Religious Freedom argues that religious identity inheres not in the nation, but in the individual citizen.