By Jade Mardirosian
Christianity Today has recognized a Baylor professor with an award of merit for a book he authored, “God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution.”
Dr. Thomas S. Kidd, associate professor of history and senior fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor, said he felt happy when he learned he received the award.
“It’s nice to get national recognition like this, and it also is gratifying to know I’m reaching not just a purely academic audience but a more popular audience, too,” Kidd said. “That was good to know because part of what I was trying to do with this book was write for a more general audience.”
According to Christianity Today, judging for the award began with 427 titles submitted by 62 publishers. Judges named 21 books in 10 categories for recognition and chose books that offered the best insights into people, events and ideas that shape evangelical life, thought and mission. Kidd said the book, which took him about four years to complete, answers the question of what role faith played in the founding of America.
“This is obviously one of the very controversial historical topics in American life today, so I am trying to give a good historical answer to what role did religion actually play in creating the new nation,” Kidd said.
This is the second award Kidd has received from Christianity Today. The first was for his 2009 book,“The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America,” which served as inspiration for new book.
“This book is very closely connected to the ‘Great Awakening’ book,” Kidd said. “One of the chapters of that book is about Evangelical Christians and the American Revolution and I decided that easily warranted a whole book onto itself. I sort of jumped off from that book to write this book.”
Dr. Barry Hankins, professor of history and church-state studies, said he and Kidd read each other’s books before they are sent to the publisher.
“I read [the book] when he was writing it,” Hankins said. “It’s a really good book. Dr. Kidd does a good job of showing the multifaceted influences that went into the founding of the country and how religion played a role in that. I think the balanced view is what is impressive about the book.”
Hankins said it is important for professors to do their own research, aside from only teaching courses. “If you are taking a course, say with Dr. Kidd, you are taking a course from someone who is not just passing along knowledge, but someone who is involved in cutting-edge research and the newest and most significant interpretations of history,” Hankins said.
“You have a scholar who is writing history instead of just passing along what others have written, and it makes the classroom that much deeper and richer.”