posted November 17, 1997

James Herrick Has Essay Published

 James Herrick, professor of communication and chair of the department at Hope College,  has had an essay published examining the way that the controversy surrounding the English Deists' challenging of church doctrine in 18th century England influenced the  framers of the Bill of Rights.

          Herrick's article, "The English Deists' Argument
  for Freedom of Expression:  Religious Inquiry and the First
  Amendment," has been published in the 1996 edition of the
  "Free Speech Yearbook," recently released by the Southern
  Illinois University Press.
          The essay argues that Constitutional framers
  Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were influenced by the
  English Deists of the early 18th century as they developed
  their argument for freedom of expression as it appears in
  the First Amendment, and that freedom of expression was
  inseparably linked with freedom of religious inquiry for the
  Deists.
          "Thus the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of
  religion is not so much a prohibition on the establishment
  of a state church as it is a guarantee of the citizen's
  right to critically explore and talk about religious
  questions generally," Herrick said.
          The English Deists challenged the Church of
  England's doctrine that biblical accounts of miracles were
  literally true.  The Deists challenged the church's teaching
  despite the potential of imprisonment.
          Herrick has been conducting research on the
  English Deists and the "miracles controversy" they prompted
  since working on his dissertation for the doctorate he
  completed in 1986.  He has received support for his research
  through a variety of grants and awards, including a
  prestigious "Summer Stipend" awarded by the National
  Endowment for the  Humanities in 1992.  His book on the
  topic, "The Radical Rhetoric of the English Deists:  The
  Discourse of Skepticism, 1680-1750," was published earlier
  this year.