The “Constitution” in American Civil Religion

Sanford Levinson

in Constitutional Faith

Published by Princeton University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780691152400
Published online October 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781400839872
The “Constitution” in American Civil Religion

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This chapter elaborates on the variety of “constitutional faiths.” It discusses the parallels between Protestant and Catholic approaches to Christian doctrine and “protestant” and “catholic” modes of approaching the U.S. Constitution. It argues that there is double message contained within the analogy of the Constitution to a sacred text or the Supreme Court to a holy institution. The first, emphasizing unity and integration, is the one we most tend to be familiar. The chapter proposes to examine the alternative message, which is the potential of a written constitution to serve as the source of fragmentation and disintegration. The analysis aims not only to present a somewhat different perspective from which to look at the Constitution, but also to attack by implication any confidence of having “the Constitution” as a common symbol guarantees meaningful national political unity.

Keywords: constitutional faith; civil religion; Protestants; Catholics; U.S. Constitution; Christian doctrine

Chapter.  17990 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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