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The Right to Be Wrong: Ending the Culture War Over Religion in America [Hardcover]

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Item Number 393534  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   220
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.98" Width: 5.98" Height: 0.79"
Weight:   1.01 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 25, 2005
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1594030839  
EAN  9781594030833  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Let's say someone is writing the constitution for our new government. They declare that you have an inherent right to musical, artistic and literary freedom - as long as you don't play your music publicly, or display your pictures where people can see them, or publish your books. You would rightly say, that isn't freedom at all. Artistic expression is meant to be ... expressed! Well, the same is true of religious expression. Whether you believe in it or not is completey irrelevant. The point is that public expression of what we each believe to be the ultimate truths of life is a natural, normal, universal (and exciting) part of being human. Saying that people should only express their religion in the privacy of their own homes with the shades drawn (and calling that freedom) is literally inhuman. But allowing for the greatest amount of diverse religious expression in a culture exemplifies the very best of humanism.

Publishers Description
We call it the "culture war." It's a running feud over religious diversity that's liable to erupt at any time, in the midst of everything from judicial confirmations to school board meetings. One side demands that only their true religion be allowed in public; the other insists that no religions ever belong there. As the two sides slug it out, the stakes are rising. An ever-growing assortment of faiths insist on an ever-wider variety of truths. How can we possibly all live together and keep both the peace and our integrity (not to mention our sanity)? How can we end the war without surrendering our principles? THE RIGHT TO BE WRONG explains how. It skewers both extremes, which it dubs the "Pilgrims" and the "Park Rangers." Pilgrims get their name from the Plymouth Colony folk who banned Christmas just weeks after celebrating their first Thanksgiving. Pilgrims want to outlaw diversity by declaring their religion the official one. The truth, they say, licenses them to restrict others' freedom. The opposite extreme deals with diversity by trying to drive it underground, eliminating religious expression from public life altogether. The "Park Rangers" are named after the bureaucrats in a too-good-to-be-true story about New Agers, a public park and a certain sacred parking barrier. They say freedom requires them to banish other people's truths. THE RIGHT TO BE WRONG offers a solution that avoids both pitfalls. It draws its lessons from a series of stories —some old, others recent, some funny, others not. They tell of heroes and scoundrels, of riots, rabbis and reverends, Founders and flakes, from the colonial period to the present. The book concludes that freedom for all of us is guaranteed by the truth about each of us: Our common humanity entitles us to freedom — within broad limits — to follow what we believe to be true as our consciences say we must, even if our consciences are mistaken. Thus, we can respect others' freedom when we're sure they're wrong. In truth, they have the right to be wrong.

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More About Kevin Seamus Hasson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! KEVIN SEAMUS HASSON is the founder and president emeritus of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-partisan, interfaith, public-interest law firm that protects the free expression of all religious traditions. Hasson is the author of The Right to Be Wrong: Ending theCulture War Over Religion in America. He holds a law degree and a master s in theology from the University of Notre Dame, and lives with hiswife, Mary, and their children in Fairfax County, Virginia."

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Product Categories
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3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Church & State   [899  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Makes the complex simple (and fun to read!) by defining the extremes  Sep 20, 2008
Short and well-argued explication of the history, role, and status of religious regulation and religious liberty in American government. Hasson makes the complex simple by defining the extremes ("Pilgrims" who want only their religious freedoms protected in public, and "Park Rangers", who want all religion banned from public places), explaining their sources, and why they are both wrong.

Hasson speaks from the front line as the founder and director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and uses examples from history and his personal legal file that exactly define the issues in easily-understood pictures. Indeed, if my review suggests a lugubrious academic treatise of fine print, I have failed to convey the humor in this classic; it is actually fun to read.

Here's the really short version:

1. Tolerance of all religious practices, which was given some trial during the colonial days, but almost universally abandoned for establishment of state-favored religion and severe restrictions on religious expression, is not a lasting or good solution because "tolerance based solely on the government's benevolence lasts only as long, and as far, as the benevolence does. Don't blink; you might miss it."

2. Religious freedom must be established as a human right, which predates, precedes, and precludes legal rights and restriction.

3. The Constitution and the First Amendment made steps towards establishing free expression as a human right, but were limited by political compromises to accommodate the needs of ratification and state's rights.

4. The state of judicial interpretation of the First Amendment is a mess, but one that can be informed and reformed as we remember and take seriously points 1 and 2.
Magnificent Overview of Right to Religious LIberty  Jul 13, 2008
I highly recommend this book if you are interested in a thoroughly-engaging, very informative look at the evolution of religious liberty in America.

I breezed through it quickly because the author has a quirky, conversational style (and a great sense of humor -- I laughed out loud a couple times during my reading). This style, however, is not an indication of lack of depth. He clearly has a thorough understanding of the history of religion in America, from the early colonies (where things weren't so free) through the construction of the First Amendment and on to the interpretations of the Amendment up to the time the book was written (2005).

What I also liked about this book was the author's conviction that religious liberty is a "natural human right" based on aspects of human nature itself. As he puts it: "....saying that people have religious liberty because God told you so convinces only the people who believe that God talks to you..."

So, oddly enough, he is a man who passionately defends religious freedom (and sounds very faith-filled himself)....but believes that right does not spring from religion itself per se. Or rather, does not need to be argued from that standpoint.

Highly, highly recommend it.
Cretinous Moronic Idiocy  Oct 10, 2007
This is one of the worst books I have ever read. It is poorly written and poorly argued. The author seems to believe that religious people have the right to express their views, EVEN WHEN CONTRARY TO THE CONSTITUTION, in any place, at any time, regardless of the feelings of other people. So let's have prayer in the schools, at football games, mangers in the public square! That's what he is saying. Well, sorry, Buster, but there are those of us who believe that SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE actually has MEANING and was put there for a reason by the Founding Fathers, who were a lot smarter than Hasson! Hasson, you are NOT going to end the Culture Wars by simply imposing your views on the rest of us who don't share your beliefs! If Hasson wants to have a REAL DIALOGUE with Secularists, fine. But don't start with the view that you can cram your religious views down my throat at any time and anyplace, 'cause I'm not going to let you, and neither will my brothers and sisters who believe in freedom!
Almost right, but then went so very wrong  Feb 16, 2007
This book was fascinating, and a very enjoyable read. The early history of religion and faith in our country was not only extremely well written and thorough, but was also outright shocking. The amount of state sanctioned persecution is shameful and the Pilgrims, rather than being celebrated, should be mocked throughout history for their despicable hypocrisy.

Hasson does a remarkable job of portraying all the reasons why the government should not be involved in religion, and makes a good argument that we all have "the right to be wrong". Religion is a personal choice and should never be coerced.

The first 3/4 of the book is outstanding, yet somehow, even with all the evidence he has just presented, he goes terribly wrong and jumps to the absurd conclusion that the government should sponsor religion. Yes, it is a natural part of our lives and cannot be denied, but allowing everyone their own rights, and the right to publicly act and express those beliefs, is a far cry from using our tax dollars to support and encourage someone's particular beliefs. Yes, all faiths have a right to the public square, but that does not mean that I should have to pay them out of my pocket. Then I learned that his Beckett fund actually legally supports such ridiculous things as paying criminals to attend church services - which is the same thing as taxpayer support of religiuos indoctrination.

History has shown us over and over that the one way to keep government from corrupting religion (and vice-versa) is not to outright sponsor it, but to remain neutiral to all faiths. We have the greatest religiuos freedom of any country on earth, and it flourishes here, precisely because of this separation. To encourage government support of all relgions is to entirely miss the point of most of the author's own writing.

In spite of this, I would still recommend this book (just skip the last chapters), but had to give it low rating for reaching completely the wrong conclusion - when well over 3/4 of the book made it abuntantly obvious that govenment support of religion can only eventually lead to either persecution or abomination. That a man can understand so much of history, and still go so wrong is a mistery, and in the end I would have to say "Shame on Seamus"!
Great Title, great idea, but...  Jun 26, 2006
I loved the title of this book and browsed a couple of pages before deciding to buy it. I thought the author was well on the way to finding a way out of the mess that religion has become in the USA. The subtitle of the book advertizes "ending the culture war over religion in America." I felt the author was doing a great job of thrashing out the issues until I got to the chapter "Where does religious liberty come from?" Alas, the answer reveals the author's true feelings: to put is succinctly, he says, "We're at our best when we're searching for God." (p. 123) In one sentence, he ruined the book for me by leaving out a large part of the issue, namely those of us who really don't find any reason to search for God and wish that we could just not have to listen to the debate any longer. Recent surveys show that the fastest growing religious persausion in the USA is "none." Mr. Hasson apparently feels it is OK to ignore this segment of the population. I don't see how we can end the culture war until the non-believers in our society get some respect.

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