My buddy Pete is an ex-pentecostal now-atheist (yay!)
I had posted a link to Jonathan Miller's "A Brief History of Disbelief" (2) (3) in a forum thread off-site and Pete has been watching them. It covers briefly America's secularim and he's come back to me saying he is interested to know more about America's founding and government
"Growing up I was always taught that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, with the constitution and deceleration of independence all being inspired by judeo Christian philosophies and quite possibly directly inspired by God. That the reason that the U.S. is the only super power is because that the Jews or Israel where the chosen people but since they rejected Jesus and Christianity, Rome became the chosen people than the UK and now the U.S. are God's chosen people but that could all change yada yada yada. It's crazy stuff and the more you read about what people like Washington, Jefferson and Franklin actually believed it becomes more apparent that my teachers, and pastors were full of shit. Anyway you guys know of any good books or link to something that talks about this?"
Off the top of my head I do not. I know I've listened to Hitchen's speak about this a few times; as an american citizen freshly installed it's been important to him.
I was thinking I might refer him to some Thomas Paine.
But actual books about America's secular founding, I don't have many clear ideas so I said I'd ask around.
Funny, I sent him the Hitchens links already!
Great minds must think alike!
If there are any further book recommendations people want to give that I can pass on, please leave them below. Thanks. :-)
I will always recommend Thomas Paine, but like any published word, I urge reading a lot of him. A small ammount of anything becomes very much like "quote mining". Something the religious are very good at.
Firstly read "Common Sense". That will put you in touch with the times of the late 1700s and give you a much truer feel of what the American revolution was all about. Then read "Age of Reason". Here Paine more or less outlines secular existance pretty much by throwing religion in the trash. Both are available on-line, but I recommend the book "Thomas Paine", (both documents are contained therin), from Library of America. Also available from Amzon, and certainly part of my personal library.