A “national Church” and Its Holy Scriptures

Jeffrey F. Meyer

in Myths in Stone

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780520214811
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520921344 | DOI:
A “national Church” and Its Holy Scriptures

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This chapter addresses the sacralization process of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It also explores the fate of Pierre Charles L'Enfant's plan to develop an important site for a national church, creating a prominent square for the location on an axial street that was arguably second in importance only to Pennsylvania Avenue. L'Enfant, sharing the Enlightenment vision of a new religion for the State, made the site for his national church a place of strategic importance. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were not always treated like sacred scriptures. These documents have come on a long journey from neglect to veneration. They are not only a collection of ideas and principles but also a compendium of images and symbols by which a people has constructed and maintained its world.

Keywords: national church; Declaration of Independence; Constitution; Pierre Charles L'Enfant; Pennsylvania Avenue

Chapter.  10022 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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