James Madison on Religion and Politics

James Madison and the Future of Limited Government, John Curtis Samples, ed. (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2002), 135–46.

Americans are once again rediscovering the wisdom of the founders who wrote and ratified the U.S. Constitution, which has stood the test of two centuries. James Madison’s efforts in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 earned him the reputation of being the “father of the Constitution.” The time is ripe for Madison to take his place alongside John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as a thinker for the ages.

This book looks at the ways in which Madison’s ideas might instruct and inform our era. Alex Kozinski, Stephen Engel, and Roger Pilon call for a return to Madison’s belief that the powers of the federal government are limited to those granted in the Constitution. The historians Joyce Malcolm and Robert McDonald examine the ways in which Madison was unique and the differences he had with Jefferson. Tom G. Palmer, Jacob Levy, and John Samples reflect on Madison’s implications for contemporary multiculturalism and the practice of direct democracy. Walter Berns and Michael Hayes hold up his strict separation of politics and religion for both praise and blame.

The book closes with essays by James Dorn and John Tomasi, which suggest that developing nations and the larger world would do well to follow Madison’s concern for limited government and human rights.

The contributors to this volume provide an informed, but never pedantic, guide through Madison’s thought. They are determined to let Madison speak to our time. Every reader interested in current politics and the future of our Constitution will treasure this book.

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