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The Constitution of Religious Freedom

God, Politics, and the First Amendment

Dennis J. Goldford

Publication Year: 2012

Uncovering what is really at stake in American religious identity

Published by: Baylor University Press


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Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

According to an old cautionary maxim, the two things we should never discuss in polite company are politics and religion. This book, either bravely or brazenly—or perhaps both—proposes to discuss both. As an American political scientist, I have been interested for a long time in the connections between politics and religion in the United States, ...

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pp. 1-18

Despite, or perhaps even because of, the prohibition of an officially established church in the United States, religion has always been a factor in American politics. Political scientists, for example, for years have studied the correlation of party identification and voting behavior with religious affiliation.1 If we start with the premise that the Constitution establishes a particular kind of political order, however, we can distinguish between ...

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1. Constitutional Fundamentals

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pp. 19-44

People differ. As individuals, we differ from each other in matters ranging from the mundane to the significant. Beyond such mundane differences as being right-handed or left-handed, we differ from each other in regard to such naturally based characteristics as our age, sex, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity and such socially based characteristics as how much and what kind of education we have, the state of our economic and financial condition, where we grew up and live, what kind of occupation...

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2. Religious Minorities, Religious Freedom, and Religion

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pp. 45-82

Even when not exacerbated by controversial constitutional decisions, the interrelationship of law, politics, and religion in the United States is always interesting and often contentious, particularly so in the 2008 Republican presidential nomination process. During the early stage of that process, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney pursued an electoral strategy almost guaranteed to raise questions about the political ...

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3. Conventional vs. Radical Establishment Clause Jurisprudence

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pp. 83-114

Whatever the religion clauses of the U.S. Constitution represent and however they function in particular cases and controversies, from the standpoint of American political and constitutional theory they have to do with the relation between an individual’s religious orientation and his or her status as an American citizen. Regarding government, the religion clauses stand for the proposition, as we saw Justice Robert Jackson put ...

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4. Orthodoxy and Neutrality

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pp. 115-142

In radicalizing conventional Establishment Clause jurisprudence, the Christian Right certainly pursues a distinct religio-political agenda of a return to what they consider traditional family values accompanied and reinforced by an increased public role for religion.1 At the same time, there is, however, a less distinctly political, more academic version of the argument that any political order necessarily and inevitably embodies...

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5. The Concept of Coercion in Establishment Clause Jurisprudence

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pp. 143-180

It is customary to begin a discussion of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution with a lament about the problematic state of jurisprudence in this important and controversial constitutional field. The typical claim we encounter holds that Establishment Clause doctrine is inconsistent or confusing at best, if not incoherent and contradictory at worst. As long ...

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6. The Concept of Position Taking in Establishment Clause Jurisprudence

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pp. 181-212

The political significance of the religion clauses comes into play most directly with the Establishment Clause. The Free Exercise Clause is important principally regarding the individual, having to do with the individual’s liberty in matters of private religious belief and practice. It thus speaks to the question of what government is required to do— respect the religious freedom of American citizens. The Free Exercise ...

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7. The Theoretical Core of the Establishment Clause

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pp. 213-234

The burden of the previous chapter was to argue that the best understanding of the principle that underlies various concepts like neutrality, separation of church and state, and endorsement, concepts we find operating both in Supreme Court Establishment Clause cases and in the critical literature on religious freedom under the Constitution, is what I have inelegantly but expressively called the non-position-taking principle. The ...

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Conclusion: One Nation under Whose God?

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pp. 235-246

The religion clauses in the First Amendment to the American Constitution are the focus of extensive litigation regarding such matters as school prayer, government aid to religious institutions, religious exemptions from otherwise generally applicable laws, and so on, but the broader question, beyond simply legal matters but underlying such legal matters, is, what is the political meaning of the religion clauses regarding the character

Cases Cited

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pp. 247-248

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 249-258


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pp. 259-264

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781602584211
E-ISBN-10: 1602584214
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602584198
Print-ISBN-10: 1602584192

Page Count: 270
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1st

OCLC Number: 785785368
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Constitution of Religious Freedom

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Freedom of religion -- United States.
  • Church and state -- United States.
  • Religion and politics -- United States.
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