Public Attitudes toward Church and State

By Ted G. Jelen; Clyde Wilcox | Go to book overview

between religion and irreligion. Such people believe that government should neither support nor restrict religious practice. In chapter 6, we will see if this typology of elite positions bears any relationship to the beliefs of the general public.


Conclusion

The general area of church -- state relations is a rich source of political controversy. The sparse language of the religion clauses of the First Amendment has provided political, legal, and academic analysts with a great deal of ammunition for conflict concerning the proper constitutional role of religion in American politics.

The rest of this book is devoted to describing and explaining public attitudes toward the relationship between church and state. We will consider general and specific attitudes toward issues involving religious establishment, as well as those pertaining to free-exercise applications. The perspectives of ordinary citizens also will be examined and compared with those of political, educational, religious, business, and media elites.


Notes
1.
Most accommodationists speak of a "Judeo-Christian tradition," arguing that a great portion of the ethical basis of Western religion is found in what Christians term the "Old Testament" or what Jews might call the "Hebrew Bible."
2.
In Federalist #10, Madison regarded religion as a less potent source of faction than economic interests.
3.
It should be noted that in Everson the Court upheld the constitutionality of a measure authorizing reimbursement of transportation costs to parents whose children attended parochial schools.
4.
Anyone who has toured the University of Virginia campus will recall Jefferson's serpentine walls and can invent their own metaphors for this case.
5.
A case can be made that such a practice would violate even a nonpreferentialist understanding of the establishment clause because it would involve funding for a specific denomination.
6.
The Ninth Amendment states that the American people may have rights other than those listed in the Bill of Rights while the Tenth Amendment reserves all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government to the states or to the people.
7.
As might be expected, arguments based on the "spirit" of the Constitution are themselves quite controversial. In the 1989 case of Michael H. v. Gerald D., Scalia argued that rights must be characterized at the most specific level that can be identified. Thus, Scalia (among others) would likely regard the process o

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