Church-State Relationships in America

By Gerard V. Bradley | Go to book overview
Save to active project

6

The Founders' Worldview: The Sacred Canopy Explained

What the congressional framers and state ratifiers understood by nonestablishment was no sect preference. Joseph Story thus accurately captured the relevant meaning. When the First Amendment was adopted, "the general, if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as it was not inconsistent with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship." 1 That the amendment conditioned the manner in which government aided religion, rather than banning all aid, is a distinction that has eluded the Supreme Court. But not Story: "An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation at the time of the adoption of the Constitution." 2

Story was right. But before elaborately verifying his proposition with historical evidence, it is important to appreciate just what he has gotten hold of. Everson grabbed onto the same thing: the Court's "freedom-loving colonials" constitute Story's sentimental universe. Whether such broadly brushed attributions are accurate is one question--and it is clear that Story and the Everson Court cannot both be right--the validity of the method displayed is another. And it is questionable, for these are assertions about a critical, relevant portion of the founders' intellectual infrastructure, their mentality or gestalt. The reader may choose any term that correspondingly marks an outer limit on where thought can lead. A good one is horizon, connoting a boundary beyond which vision, whether with one's eyes or one's mind, is impossible. "Separation of church and state," walled or otherwide, is a notion possible only in societies that (1) have clearly differentiated the sacred from the profane, where God's due and Caesar's are

-121-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Church-State Relationships in America
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 170

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?