Canon Law and the Secular State

John J. Coughlin

in Law, Person, and Community

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199756773
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932177 | DOI:
Canon Law and the Secular State

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This chapter first describes two contrasting sets of assumptions about the role of the state vis-à-vis religion. The traditional set of assumptions that has formed part of public ecclesiastical law is increasingly supplanted by a second set typical of the modern secular state. Second, it discusses the theological and rationalist anthropologies that underpin the religion clauses of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Constitution's prohibition of an established religion and guarantee of religious freedom may in their original intent actually be more consistent with the traditional set of assumptions about the proper roles of church and state than the secularized set. Third, it assesses the impact of the United States Supreme Court's separationist interpretation of the First Amendment during the second half of the twentieth century on legislative programs of public aid to Catholic schools. The separationist approach illustrates how judicial review may function to facilitate the abrogation of the traditional assumptions about church-state relations in favor of the modern secularized assumptions of the diminished role of religion.

Keywords: state; religion; First Amendment; U.S. Constitution; separationism; public aid; Catholic schools; church-state relations

Chapter.  13231 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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