RELIGION AND THE
AMERICAN
CONSTITUTIONAL
EXPERIMENT
Chapter 2
The Theology and Politics of the Religion Clauses
The American Experiment




The American Experiment in religious liberty
cannot be reduced to the First Amendment
religi...
The American Experiment


Within the ample eighteenth-century sources
at hand, four views on religious liberty were
criti...
Puritan Views


The Puritans of the New England states of
Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire,
Vermont, and Maine w...
Puritan Views


Initially the New England leadership left little room
for individual religious experimentation.



Quake...
Evangelical Views


The eighteenth-century American Evangelical
tradition of religious liberty has its roots in
sixteenth...
Evangelical Views


In the place of religious establishment,
religious voluntarism lay at the heart of the
Evangelical vi...
Evangelical Views




Evangelicals advocated the institutional
separation of church and state.
Evangelicals argued that ...
Enlightenment Views


The Enlightenment movement in America
provided a political theory that complemented
the Evangelical...
Enlightenment Views


John Locke – Letter Concerning Toleration
(1689) – provide ample inspiration for the
movement.
 Lo...
Enlightenment Views


The state should not give special aid, support,
privilege, or protection to religious doctrines or
...
Republican Views


The Civic Republican movement provided a
sturdy political philosophy to complement the
Puritan theolog...
Republican Views








The “Publick Religion” or “civil religion” of
America taught a creed of honesty, diligence,
...
Summary


These four views helped inform the early
American experiment in religious rights and
liberties.



The common ...
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Religion and Politics ch2

  1. 1. RELIGION AND THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERIMENT Chapter 2 The Theology and Politics of the Religion Clauses
  2. 2. The American Experiment   The American Experiment in religious liberty cannot be reduced to the First Amendment religion clauses alone. Nor can the framers’ understanding be determined simply by studying the debates on these clauses in the First Session of Congress in 1789.
  3. 3. The American Experiment  Within the ample eighteenth-century sources at hand, four views on religious liberty were critical to constitutional formation:  Puritan  Evangelical  Enlightenment  Civic Republican
  4. 4. Puritan Views  The Puritans of the New England states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine were heirs of the theology of religious liberty taught by the Reformed or Calvinist tradition.  In the New England communities, the Puritans adopted a variety of rules designed to foster this basic separation of the institutions and operations of the church and state.
  5. 5. Puritan Views  Initially the New England leadership left little room for individual religious experimentation.  Quakers remained unwelcome, although Baptists, Episcopalians, and other Protestant groups came to be tolerated in the New England colonies.  Over time, the growing presence of religious nonconformists in New England shifted the Puritan understanding of liberty of conscience.
  6. 6. Evangelical Views  The eighteenth-century American Evangelical tradition of religious liberty has its roots in sixteenth-century European Anabaptism.  Evangelicals did not emerge as a strong political force in America until after the Great Awakening of 1720-1780.
  7. 7. Evangelical Views  In the place of religious establishment, religious voluntarism lay at the heart of the Evangelical view.  It was for God, not the state, to decide which religions would flourish and which would fade.  Autonomy of religious governance also lay at the heart of this Evangelical view.
  8. 8. Evangelical Views   Evangelicals advocated the institutional separation of church and state. Evangelicals argued that all religious bodies should be free from: state control of their assembly and worship  State regulation of their property and polity  State incorporation of their society and clergy  State interference in their discipline and government  State collection of religious tithes and taxes. 
  9. 9. Enlightenment Views  The Enlightenment movement in America provided a political theory that complemented the Evangelical theology of religious liberty.  The Enlightenment movement was not a single, unified movement but rather a series of diverse ideological movements in various academic disciplines and social circles throughout Europe and North America.
  10. 10. Enlightenment Views  John Locke – Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) – provide ample inspiration for the movement.  Locke’s Letter presupposed a magistracy and community committed to a common Christianity.  A century later, American Enlightenment writers pressed Locke’s theory of religious toleration further, and into more concrete legal and political forms.
  11. 11. Enlightenment Views  The state should not give special aid, support, privilege, or protection to religious doctrines or groups.  A contractarian view of society believed that religion was one of the natural and unalienable rights that God had given to each person.  Neither the state nor the church could take away this natural right of religion, nor could a person transfer it to someone else.
  12. 12. Republican Views  The Civic Republican movement provided a sturdy political philosophy to complement the Puritan theology of religious liberty.  By the later eighteenth century, Republican leaders had found their most natural theological allies among the Puritans.  However, they still shared much common ground with Evangelical and Enlightenment exponents.
  13. 13. Republican Views      The “Publick Religion” or “civil religion” of America taught a creed of honesty, diligence, devotion, public spiritedness, patriotism, obedience, love of God, neighbor and self. Icons: the Bible The Declaration of Independence The bells of liberty The Constitution
  14. 14. Summary  These four views helped inform the early American experiment in religious rights and liberties.  The common point of departure for all four views was their rejection of the traditional Anglican establishment that had been the formal law of the American colonies until the American Revolution.

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