No Establishment of Religion: America's Original Contribution to Religious Liberty

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T. Jeremy Gunn, John Witte Jr.
Oxford University Press, Nov 2, 2012 - Religion - 432 pages
The First Amendment guarantee that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" rejected the millennium-old Western policy of supporting one form of Christianity in each nation and subjugating all other faiths. The exact meaning and application of this American innovation, however, has always proved elusive. Individual states found it difficult to remove traditional laws that controlled religious doctrine, liturgy, and church life, and that discriminated against unpopular religions. They found it even harder to decide more subtle legal questions that continue to divide Americans today: Did the constitution prohibit governmental support for religion altogether, or just preferential support for some religions over others? Did it require that government remove Sabbath, blasphemy, and oath-taking laws, or could they now be justified on other grounds? Did it mean the removal of religious texts, symbols, and ceremonies from public documents and government lands, or could a democratic government represent these in ever more inclusive ways? These twelve essays stake out strong and sometimes competing positions on what "no establishment of religion" meant to the American founders and to subsequent generations of Americans, and what it might mean today.

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The Separation of Church and State versus Religion in
Establishment at the Founding
Disestablishing Religion and Protecting Religious Liberty
Roger Williams and the Puritan Background of
Toleration and Diversity in New Netherland and the Dukes
James Madison Thomas Jefferson and the Meaning
The Continental Congress and Emerging Ideas of ChurchState
Defining and Testing the Prohibition on Religious
The Evolution of Nineteenth
Federalism School
Some Reflections on Fundamental Questions about the Original
Getting Beyond The Myth of Christian America

The First Federal Congress and the Formation of

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About the author (2012)

T. Jeremy Gunn teaches international relations at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco and is Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. His numerous publications include A Standard for Repair: The Establishment Clause, Equality, and Natural Rights and Spiritual Weapons: The Cold War and the Forging of an American National Religion. John Witte, Jr. is Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, Alonzo L. McDonald Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion Center at Emory University. He has published 200 articles and 26 books, including Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment and Religion and Human Rights: An Introduction.

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