The Rhetoric of Church and State

This book, written by a BYU law professor, is sure to command the attention of those with an interest in First Amendment religious issues, legal history, or legal and political philosophy, especially regarding church and state.

The author sees a major crisis in religion clause jurisprudence: the Supreme Court’s doctrine of church and state is grounded in two distinct and conflicting discourses. The first is religious communitarianism, which dominated Supreme Court decisions until the middle of the twentieth century. Communitarianism is generally respectful, accommodating, and supportive of traditional Judeo-Christian values. The second discourse is secular individualism, which developed in the 1950s. Now the prevailing doctrine of the Court, secular individualism takes a more critical stance toward religion, relegating it to the role of a purely private institution toward which government is to remain strictly neutral.

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