We need to "change . . . the way we think about" the American Constitution, says Robert Dahl. Though it is now widely revered among us as a "sacred text," its worth depends solely on its service to democracy. The democratic ideal is full political equality, the equal right of all adult citizens "to participate, directly or indirectly through their elected representatives, in making the . . .
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.
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