Chapter

From Christian Civilization to Individual Civil Liberties: Framing Religion in the Legal Field, 1880–1949

David Sikkink

in The Secular Revolution

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780520230002
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936706 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520230002.003.0007
From Christian Civilization to Individual Civil Liberties: Framing Religion in the Legal Field, 1880–1949

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This chapter traces the journey of religion in American law from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. Through most of the nineteenth century, many judges used common law to insert community and religious notions of justice and fairness into legal decisions. In the late nineteenth century, the actions of the emerging legal elite expanded the influence of a science of law, which narrowed the role of religion in legal decision-making. Within the “classical” movement, law professors and Supreme Court judges limited the role of religion in legal decision-making. In the first half of the twentieth century, the dominant legal framework for religion shifted from a general religion that enhanced the social order to one in which religion figured as one expression of the legal doctrine of individual civil liberties. As a result, religion came to be viewed with suspicion, as something people and society often needed to be protected from by law.

Keywords: religion; classical movement; legal decision-making; individual civil liberties; law

Chapter.  21047 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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