church and state

Books

For the sake of conscience

The U.S. Supreme Court's opinions about the relationship between religion and the state have been increasingly separationist, argues Phillip Hammond, a distinguished sociologist of religion and contributor to the so-called civil religion discussion. Although the nation "began as a de facto Protestant society," it has since the close of the Civil War moved toward greater and greater government neutrality not only toward differing religions but also toward the difference between religion and irreligion. This is as it should be, Hammond thinks. Behind the Constitution, he contends, is a "constitutional faith," and separationism, rightly understood, is its legal or judicial expression.

Books

The myth about religion

William Cavanaugh has written a pair of stunningly important books, in which he makes a clear and persuasive argument for overturning a founding myth of the modern Western state.