The Interplay of Law, Religion, and Politics in the United States

Derek H. Davis

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

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780195326246
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Interplay of Law, Religion, and Politics in the United States

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This article discusses law, religion, and politics in the United States. It looks at these issues within the following contexts; 1) separation of the church and state; 2) cooperation between sacred and secular; 3) integration of religion and politics; and 4) accommodation of civil religion. Each of these four categories is important to the overall American public philosophy and to the confusing yet interconnected system that has as its goal the Good Society. Although conflicting in many aspects, the principles of the separation of church and state, cooperation between sacred and secular, integration of religion and politics, and accommodation of civil religion combine to provide a distinctive but significant contribution to America's public philosophy. While the role of religion in American public life has been controversial since its founding and may remain so, the separation–cooperation–integration–accommodation typology described in this article removes some of the hard edges from the controversy as it embraces elements of both conservative and liberal thought, of competing philosophical and theological beliefs, and of argument advanced by the separationists and anti-separationists. Such is the way the democracy should work—disparate elements coming together to produce a common good and to achieve the Good Society.

Keywords: law; religion; politics; separation; church and state; cooperation; sacred and secular; religion and politics; civil religion

Article.  9387 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Comparative Politics

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