Article

The Meaning of the Separation of Church and State: Competing Views

Daniel L. Dreisbach

in The Oxford Handbook of Church and State in the United States

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780195326246
Published online January 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195326246.003.0007

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Meaning of the Separation of Church and State: Competing Views

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From the time of Augustine to the time of John Locke, the separation of the church and state has been a much-advocated precept. However, in spite of the call for the separation of church and state, for nearly two millennia, civil states supported ecclesiastical establishments where established churches looked upon the state to suppress religious dissent and rival institutions. This article focuses on the competing views on the separation of church and state. It focuses on the two phrases that have been frequently used in the American church–state discourse: “separation of church and state” and “wall of separation between church and state.” The article discusses the promises of this separationist rhetoric and the perils posed by this figurative language in the understanding of the constitutional relationships and principles between church and state.

Keywords: separation; state; church; civil states; ecclesiastical establishments; church and state; wall of separation; separationist rhetoric; constitutional relationships; constitutional principles

Article.  9161 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Comparative Politics

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