Journal Article

The Exclusion of Clergy from Political Office in American States: An Oddity in Church-State Relations

William Silverman

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 61, issue 2, pages 223-230
Published in print January 2000 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2000 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712287
The Exclusion of Clergy from Political Office in American States: An Oddity in Church-State Relations

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During the early nineteenth century thirteen American states had provisions in their state constitutions which prohibited clergy from holding political offices. Most states dropped this provision from their constitutions before 1880. Most of the states with these provisions in their constitutions were southern or border states. How can we explain why some states did or did not exclude clergy from political office? The timing of adoption of these rules shows that they were not adopted to limit the influence of the Roman Catholic church. It was not part of the nineteenth-century nativist campaigns against the Catholic church. Some evidence is presented to support the hypothesis that discrimination against clergy was a way of taking revenge against Great Britain, the pre-revolution colonial power.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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