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Education Reporter

Book Review
One Nation Under God, Dee Wampler, Evergreen Press, 2008, 184 pp., $24.99

In One Nation Under God, Dee Wampler debunks the myths about church and state that are so often used to marginalize the opinions of religious people. "The First Amendment has been twisted to remove God from public life," said Judge Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. "We're moving from separation of church and state to separation of the people from God. If that trend is not stopped, we'll have no rights given by God, only rights given by the government. And what it has given, it can take away."

Starting with Christopher Columbus, Wampler quotes from one historical figure after another to show that until very recently, everyone agreed that religion was absolutely central to American life. George Washington said, "Do not let anyone claim to be a true American if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics."

One especially interesting chapter examines the life and beliefs of Thomas Jefferson, supposedly the first and leading exponent of the modern view of the separation of church and state. In January of 1802, Jefferson used his now famous "wall of separation" metaphor in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Church. First of all, our nation is built on the Constitution, not on the correspondence of our presidents. But Wampler furthermore proves that Jefferson did not mean what members of the secular elite want him to have meant. Two days before he wrote that letter, Jefferson attended church in the House of Representatives for the first time. He attended that church "constantly" for the next seven years. Wampler lists dozens of other ways that Jefferson flouted the misinterpretation of the First Amendment that is so often credited to him.

With its readable format and full-color pictures on almost every page, One Nation Under God is a short textbook on the history of religion in America, a history that fewer and fewer students learn today. One social studies book devotes 30 pages to the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, without once mentioning religion. Wampler writes of a boy who came home from school and told his mother that "Thanksgiving was when the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians."

Karl Marx wrote that "a people without a heritage are easily persuaded." Wampler urges Americans to reclaim their heritage, and to work to rebuild America's foundations and preserve the nation from further decline.

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