100 books like God's Name in Vain

By Stephen L. Carter,

Here are 100 books that God's Name in Vain fans have personally recommended if you like God's Name in Vain. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill

David E. Guinn Author Of Handbook of Bioethics and Religion

From my list on the role of religion in the public realm.

Why am I passionate about this?

Throughout my life, I have been fascinated by religion, initially in struggling with individual belief and later with its place within the social and political world. As a bioethicist, I studied and worked with patients and practitioners as they dealt with religious and moral concerns in healthcare. Then, as an international human rights advocate, educator, and governance development practitioner, I engaged with people of faith and secularists in the struggle to protect human rights and dignity as well as to attempt to promote peacebuilding in the post-conflict areas in which I worked, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Cote d’Ivoire.

David's book list on the role of religion in the public realm

David E. Guinn Why did David love this book?

Post 9-11, a cottage industry of neo-atheists emerged, arguing that religion inherently leads to violence and should be shunned in civilized society. Jessica Stern counters this in an insightful study of terrorism.

While religion has been associated with some of the most heinous acts of terror in recent times, she avoids simple slogans in favor of in-depth interviews with the terrorists themselves. Representing a variety of religious traditions, she explores their motivations and rationales and finds that religion is not the source of violence but, in most cases, is a tool exploited by opportunistic leaders to motivate and justify acts of violence by their followers.

I find it a well-written corrective to the neo-atheists.

By Jessica Stern,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Terror in the Name of God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For four years, Jessica Stern interviewed extremist members of three religions around the world: Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Traveling extensively-to refugee camps in Lebanon, to religious schools in Pakistan, to prisons in Amman, Asqelon, and Pensacola-she discovered that the Islamic jihadi in the mountains of Pakistan and the Christian fundamentalist bomber in Oklahoma have much in common. Based on her vast research, Stern lucidly explains how terrorist organizations are formed by opportunistic leaders who-using religion as both motivation and justification-recruit the disenfranchised. She depicts how moral fervor is transformed into sophisticated organizations that strive for money, power, and attention. Jessica…


Book cover of Life's Dominion: An Argument About Abortion, Euthanasia, and Individual Freedom

David E. Guinn Author Of Handbook of Bioethics and Religion

From my list on the role of religion in the public realm.

Why am I passionate about this?

Throughout my life, I have been fascinated by religion, initially in struggling with individual belief and later with its place within the social and political world. As a bioethicist, I studied and worked with patients and practitioners as they dealt with religious and moral concerns in healthcare. Then, as an international human rights advocate, educator, and governance development practitioner, I engaged with people of faith and secularists in the struggle to protect human rights and dignity as well as to attempt to promote peacebuilding in the post-conflict areas in which I worked, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Cote d’Ivoire.

David's book list on the role of religion in the public realm

David E. Guinn Why did David love this book?

In trying to exclude religion from the public sphere, most critics argue that religion precludes reasoned discussion: that secular arguments are rational and religious arguments are not.

Ronald Dworkin correctly recognizes that arguments over moral issues ultimately rest upon personal values, whether expressed in secular or religious terms. I love how he brilliantly breaks down arguments over such emotionally and morally controversial issues as abortion and euthanasia and then tries to identify the values relied on by both sides in how they attempt to justify their position.

In doing so, he makes two critical points: first, fundamental secular beliefs ultimately rest upon a religious-like understanding of the world, and second, in engaging with the thoughtful believer and secularist, it is possible to find common values. He uses the idea of the "sacredness of life" as one such meeting point shared by each.

By Ronald Dworkin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Life's Dominion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Internationally renowned lawyer and philosopher Ronald Dworkin addresses the crucially related acts of abortion and euthanasia in a brilliantly original book that examines their meaning in a nation that prizes both life and individual liberty. From Roe v. Wade to the legal battle over the death of Nancy Cruzan, no issues have opened greater rifts in American society than those of abortion and euthanasia. 
At the heart of Life's Dominion is Dworkin's inquest into why abortion and euthanasia provoke such controversy. Do these acts violate some fundamental "right to life"? Or are the objections against them based on the belief…


Book cover of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation

David E. Guinn Author Of Handbook of Bioethics and Religion

From my list on the role of religion in the public realm.

Why am I passionate about this?

Throughout my life, I have been fascinated by religion, initially in struggling with individual belief and later with its place within the social and political world. As a bioethicist, I studied and worked with patients and practitioners as they dealt with religious and moral concerns in healthcare. Then, as an international human rights advocate, educator, and governance development practitioner, I engaged with people of faith and secularists in the struggle to protect human rights and dignity as well as to attempt to promote peacebuilding in the post-conflict areas in which I worked, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Cote d’Ivoire.

David's book list on the role of religion in the public realm

David E. Guinn Why did David love this book?

Like President Biden, whenever I want an eloquent, historically grounded analysis of the liberal American project, I turn to Jon Meacham.

In the midst of an ever-growing culture war between extremists who claim the United States was founded as a Christian Nation and those claiming an impermeable wall of separation between all religion and the state, Meacham offers a calmly argued defense of the much more nuanced American approach to religious freedom.

I love the way he teases out the religious influences that helped shape the thinking of American leaders and how they are melded with the guiding principles of liberty, justice, and respect for individual freedom as set forth in the Declaration of Independence.  

By Jon Meacham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Gospel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham reveals how the Founding Fathers viewed faith—and how they ultimately created a nation in which belief in God is a matter of choice.

At a time when our country seems divided by extremism, American Gospel draws on the past to offer a new perspective. Meacham re-creates the fascinating history of a nation grappling with religion and politics–from John Winthrop’s “city on a hill” sermon to Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence; from the Revolution to the Civil War; from a proposed nineteenth-century Christian Amendment to the Constitution to Martin Luther King,…


Book cover of A Man for All Seasons

David E. Guinn Author Of Handbook of Bioethics and Religion

From my list on the role of religion in the public realm.

Why am I passionate about this?

Throughout my life, I have been fascinated by religion, initially in struggling with individual belief and later with its place within the social and political world. As a bioethicist, I studied and worked with patients and practitioners as they dealt with religious and moral concerns in healthcare. Then, as an international human rights advocate, educator, and governance development practitioner, I engaged with people of faith and secularists in the struggle to protect human rights and dignity as well as to attempt to promote peacebuilding in the post-conflict areas in which I worked, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Cote d’Ivoire.

David's book list on the role of religion in the public realm

David E. Guinn Why did David love this book?

Before it was adapted into a multi-Oscar-winning film, this was an award-winning play that brilliantly explored the conflict and complex interplay between religious institutions and leaders and their secular counterparts, religion as a source of inspiration and guidance, and the efforts of one courageous man to honor his commitment to the law and his king while also living according to his faith. 

Moreover, like the other authors on this list, Thomas More defends his faith position through reasoned argument rather than resorting to dogmatic statements of faith. In a sense, Bolt brings together the multiple strands of thought present in the other four books.

By Robert Bolt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Man for All Seasons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Henry VIII set up his own Church of England with himself at its head, one of the few men who opposed him was Sir Thomas More. The play contrasts More's virtue of 'selfhood' with the cynical assertion that every man has his price. 14 parts: 11 male, 3 female. Suitable for Age 14+


Book cover of The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy

Andrew L. Whitehead Author Of American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church

From my list on Christian Nationalism in the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the relationship between Christianity and the United States for decades. Much of my work in the area of Christian nationalism is the result of my personal religious history and experiences, as well as my work as a social scientist. I’ve always been fascinated by how religion influences and is influenced by its social context. Christian nationalism in the US is a clear example of how influential religious ideologies can be in our social world.

Andrew's book list on Christian Nationalism in the United States

Andrew L. Whitehead Why did Andrew love this book?

While history is important for showing us how we got to where we are, social science is indispensable in helping us understand what exactly is going on around us today.

This book is a must-read for those who want to know how Christian nationalism threatens democracy. The authors conclusively demonstrate the various anti-democratic beliefs and values held by Americans who strongly embrace Christian nationalism.

January 6th wasn’t an aberration, and this book helps us understand the threat we still face.

By Philip S. Gorski, Samuel L. Perry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Flag and the Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bracing examination of a force that imperils American democracy

Most Americans were shocked by the violence they witnessed at the nation's Capital on January 6th, 2021. And many were bewildered by the images displayed by the insurrectionists: a wooden cross and wooden gallows; "Jesus saves" and "Don't Tread on Me;" Christian flags and Confederate Flags; even a prayer in Jesus' name after storming the Senate chamber. Where some saw a confusing jumble, Philip S. Gorski and Samuel L. Perry saw a familiar ideology: white Christian nationalism.

In this short primer, Gorski and Perry explain what white Christian nationalism is…


Book cover of Fire from the Midst of You: A Religious Life of John Brown

David S. Reynolds Author Of John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights

From my list on John Brown the abolitionist.

Why am I passionate about this?

David S. Reynolds is a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author or editor of 16 books, on subjects that include John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman Andrew Jackson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the literary and popular culture of the American Renaissance. He is the winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Lincoln Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Book Prize, the Ambassador Book Award, the Christian Gauss Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

David's book list on John Brown the abolitionist

David S. Reynolds Why did David love this book?

John Brown was a devout Calvinist who believed that God had chosen him to fight against slavery. In this stimulating book, Decaro provides us with the first full-scale religious biography of Brown, placing him in the context of nineteenth-century revivals and religiously inspired abolitionists. Decaro also explores Brown’s closeness to African Americans and his debt to Black militants such as David Walker, Denmark Vesey, and Henry Highland Garnet.

By Louis A. Decaro Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fire from the Midst of You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reveals a complex new portrait of John Brown, radical abolitionist and leader of the 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry
John Brown is usually remembered as a terrorist whose unbridled hatred of slavery drove him to the ill-fated raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in 1859. Tried and executed for seizing the arsenal and attempting to spur a liberation movement among the slaves, Brown was the ultimate cause celebre for a country on the brink of civil war.
"Fire from the Midst of You" situates Brown within the religious and social context of a nation steeped in racism, showing his roots in…


Book cover of A Peaceful Conquest: Woodrow Wilson, Religion, and the New World Order

Lauren Turek Author Of To Bring the Good News to All Nations: Evangelical Influence on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Relations

From my list on the history of religion in U.S. foreign relations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an associate professor of history at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, where I teach courses on modern United States history, U.S. foreign relations, and public history, direct our minor in museum studies, and direct the Mellon Initiative for Undergraduate Research in the Arts and Humanities. I am particularly interested in how domestic culture, ideology, and values have informed how the United States has engaged with the world around it. My recent work has explored the influence of conservative religious groups in foreign affairs, and I’m at work on a new book about national security and the congressional debates that unfolded over foreign aid after World War II.

Lauren's book list on the history of religion in U.S. foreign relations

Lauren Turek Why did Lauren love this book?

Although there is no shortage of books on the 28th president and his foreign policy—we even use “Wilsonian” as a shorthand for the embrace of idealism, liberal internationalism, and democratic capitalism in U.S. foreign relations—Burnidge’s work offers an exceptional exploration of how religion and religious ideas informed Wilson’s approach to world affairs. She sets her chronicle of Wilson’s life and spiritual development within the context of the broader religious history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and weaves in expert analysis of the relationship between Wilson’s Christianity, race, and racism in that era. This provides a compelling foundation for her discussion of the Protestant beliefs that shaped Wilsonian internationalism during World War I and beyond. Engrossing, revealing, and extraordinarily smart, this is a key book for those interested in Wilson, World War I, and the global Progressive Era, not to mention the underpinnings of liberal…

By Cara Lea Burnidge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Peaceful Conquest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A century after his presidency, Woodrow Wilson remains one of the most compelling and complicated figures ever to occupy the Oval Office. A political outsider, Wilson brought to the presidency a distinctive, strongly held worldview, built on powerful religious traditions that informed his idea of America and its place in the world. With A Peaceful Conquest, Cara Lea Burnidge presents the most detailed analysis yet of how Wilson's religious beliefs affected his vision of American foreign policy, with repercussions that lasted into the Cold War and beyond. Framing Wilson's intellectual development in relationship to the national religious landscape, and paying…


Book cover of The Election of the Evangelical: Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and the Presidential Contest of 1976

Robert L. Fleegler Author Of Brutal Campaign: How the 1988 Election Set the Stage for Twenty-First-Century American Politics

From my list on explaining today’s polarized US politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a history professor at the University of Mississippi and I've been a political junkie for a long time. I really began following politics during the 1988 presidential election and I vividly remember reading about the race in the newspaper every morning and then watching the evening news coverage each night. Thus, it seemed like the perfect topic for my second book. It was really fascinating to see the similarities and differences between my memories and the sources from the time.

Robert's book list on explaining today’s polarized US politics

Robert L. Fleegler Why did Robert love this book?

Williams’ book is an excellent look at an earlier election with many similarities to 1988. 

As opposed to today’s elections where candidates work to motivate their bases, Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican Gerald Ford worked to build broad electoral coalitions in 1976. They had to concern themselves with both liberal and conservative constituencies within their own parties. 

In the end, Carter was able to unite the old New Deal coalition for one last hurrah while Ford nearly provided a last gasp for traditional establishment conservatism. By 1988, the two parties were not the same big tents they were in 1976 but still featured much greater ideological diversity than they do today.

By Daniel K. Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Election of the Evangelical as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From where we stand now, the election of 1976 can look like an alternate reality: southern white evangelicals united with African Americans, northern Catholics, and Jews in support of a Democratic presidential candidate; the Republican candidate, a social moderate whose wife proudly proclaimed her support for Roe v. Wade, was able to win over Great Plains farmers as well as cultural liberals in Oregon, California, Connecticut, and New Jersey - even as he lost Ohio, Texas, and nearly the entire South. The Election of the Evangelical offers an unprecedented, behind-the-headlines analysis of this now almost unimaginable political moment, which proved…


Book cover of The Gospel of J. Edgar Hoover: How the FBI Aided and Abetted the Rise of White Christian Nationalism

Andrew L. Whitehead Author Of American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church

From my list on Christian Nationalism in the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the relationship between Christianity and the United States for decades. Much of my work in the area of Christian nationalism is the result of my personal religious history and experiences, as well as my work as a social scientist. I’ve always been fascinated by how religion influences and is influenced by its social context. Christian nationalism in the US is a clear example of how influential religious ideologies can be in our social world.

Andrew's book list on Christian Nationalism in the United States

Andrew L. Whitehead Why did Andrew love this book?

Lerone Martin’s book makes a conclusive case for how influential Christian nationalism can be when it is embraced and enforced by a whole institution—like the FBI—but especially when the person leading that institution demands it be so. J. Edgar Hoover is likely one of the most influential purveyors of white Christian nationalism in American history. Some of the accounts are jaw-dropping.

By Lerone A. Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gospel of J. Edgar Hoover as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The shocking untold story of how the FBI partnered with white evangelicals to champion a vision of America as a white Christian nation

On a Sunday morning in 1966, a group of white evangelicals dedicated a stained glass window to J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI director was not an evangelical, but his Christian admirers anointed him as their political champion, believing he would lead America back to God. The Gospel of J. Edgar Hoover reveals how Hoover and his FBI teamed up with leading white evangelicals and Catholics to bring about a white Christian America by any means necessary.

Lerone…


Book cover of Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland

Heidi Daniele Author Of The House Children

From my list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am first generation American - my mother is from Ireland and my father is from Germany. I’ve always had an interest in my heritage and developed a passion for genealogy. My curiosity led me to researching Industrial Schools and Mother Baby Homes in Ireland. I’ve read many books about these institutions and also wrote a book of my own based on stories of former residents of St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Ballinasloe, Galway.

Heidi's book list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes

Heidi Daniele Why did Heidi love this book?

Moira J. Maguire has written a book that could be used by academics yet still fascinates a curious reader. Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland gives a full view of the system implemented to care for needy children. The study examines the roles of religion and state involved in providing services. Maguire references documents and quotes from reports to give the reader an authentic view of how destitute, abused, and illegitimate children were cared for. 

By Moira J. Maguire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This fascinating study reveals the desperate plight of the poor, illegitimate, and abused children in an Irish society that claimed to cherish and hold them sacred, but in fact marginalized and ignored them. It examines closely the history of childhood in post-independence Ireland, and breaks new ground in examining the role of the state in caring for its most vulnerable citizens.

Maguire gives voice to those children who formed a significant proportion of the Irish population, but have been ignored in the historical record. More importantly, she uses their experiences as lenses through which to re-evaluate Catholic influence in post-independence…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Abolitionist, presidential biography, and Christianity?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Abolitionist, presidential biography, and Christianity.

Abolitionist Explore 15 books about Abolitionist
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography
Christianity Explore 633 books about Christianity