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Religion and American PoliticsFrom the Colonial Period to the Present$
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Mark A. Noll and Luke E. Harlow

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195317145

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195317145.001.0001

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Religion, Government, and Power in the New American Nation

Religion, Government, and Power in the New American Nation

Chapter:
(p.79) 4 Religion, Government, and Power in the New American Nation
Source:
Religion and American Politics
Author(s):

John F. Wilson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195317145.003.0005

This chapter focuses on how the place of religion at the Constitutional Convention and in the passage of the First Amendment is fraught with implications for the present. It argues that the needs of the political moment—specifically, the desire to create a national government from fragmented states jealous of their own prerogatives—dictated the constitutional provisions concerning religion. Along the way, the discussion administers a much-needed application of history to the present. Two paradigms govern current interpretation of how the Constitution regulates the relationship of religion to the federal regime, both of which make claims involving historical perspectives. These are the separationist and the accommodationist. As a constructive move, this chapter offers a third reading of this topic.

Keywords:   Constitutional Convention, First Amendment, national religion, separationist, accommodationist

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