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Volume 23 • Number 1

January 2009



 

 

The Separation of Church and State:
Truth, Opinion, and Democracy


by William W. Clohesy


The United States Constitution is arguably the greatest practical achievement of the Enlightenment. Yet most of the elements of the Constitution are borrowed from elsewhere. Its single wholly original component is the separation of church and state. The doctrine of separation has become controversial of late: Numerous ministers and politicians insist that the United States is in truth a "Christian nation" with Christian institutions that has been overtaken by secular humanism; they call for bringing the United States back to its original unity with Christianity. They argue, accordingly, that although toleration of other faiths might be practiced, the explicitly Christian character of the nation and its political institutions should be reasserted in law and policy rather than denied by secularists. Pat Robertson, for example, has maintained that separation of church and state is a "lie of the left."


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ISSN: 2152-0542