The holidays are coming up fast, and it's time to think about the special people on your list (or what you might like to put on your own).
With that thought in mind, here are some items related to religious liberty and church-state that you might like to give (or receive) as gifts.
Looking for a good book that debunks Religious Right calumny about church-state separation? Try Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom by AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn. Barry writes as a Christian minister, but the book is full of information and comment that any fan of church-state separation will find useful. The paperback edition features a new Afterword.
Other fine tomes along these lines include The Godless Constitution by Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore, Under God by Garry Wills, The Court and the Cross by Frederick S. Lane and The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America by Frank Lambert. (Not to toot my own horn too much, but Why the Religious Right Is Wrong About Separation of Church & State is still in print as well.)
Want to be inspired by the writings of a key founder? Check out James Madison on Religious Liberty by Robert S. Alley. To learn more about the unique religious views of another founder, try Thomas Jefferson's The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (also known as the "Jefferson Bible.") This book, along with Brooke Allen's Moral Minority, handily debunks Religious Right claims that our founders were fundamentalist Christians and "Christian nation" advocates who opposed separation of church and state.
Some books focus on specific church-state topics. Lauri Lebo's The Devil in Dover is an insider's look at the Pennsylvania "intelligent design" trial, which was litigated in part by Americans United. Stephen D. Solomon's Ellery's Protest: How One Young Man Defied Tradition and Sparked the Battle Over School Prayer is a detailed account of the famous 1963 Supreme Court decision that struck down state-sponsored school prayer.
Your friends might also enjoy a special DVD Americans United makes available: "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Separation of Church and State... But Were Afraid to Ask!" The show, a joint project of Americans United and The Interfaith Alliance Foundation, was taped last spring and includes musical appearances by the Bacon Brothers (actor Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael), Catie Curtis and satirist Roy Zimmerman.
Other celebrity guests include Peter Coyote, Michael J. Fox, Jack Klugman, James Whitmore, Wendie Malick, Dan Lauria, Catherine Dent and comedian Marc Maron. Copies are available through the AU Web site. (A companion book titled First Freedom First is also available.)
No matter what holiday you're celebrating – Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Human Light (or even Festivus) – we wish you a happy one.