Examining an issue that has been a matter of controversy since the founding of the United States, Separation of Church and State offers a chronological survey that helps put the ongoing debate in broad historical context.
The book briefly traces the earliest instances of tension between church and state within the Western tradition, from the era of Constantine to the Reformation, before moving on to the American experience. Attention is paid to the colonial debates about the ideal relationship between faith and politics, the 18th-century trends that culminated in a constitutional settlement, and the experiences of various religious groups during the early republic and 19th century. Finally, the book focuses on the post-1940 era, during which church-state controversies came before the Supreme Court. In the course of the discussion, readers will learn about complex legal and theological issues and debates between the great and powerful, but also about ordinary Americans whose religious scruples led to some of the most important legal cases in U.S. history.
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