To Serve God and Mammon: Church-State Relations in American Politics

To Serve God and Mammon: Church-State Relations in American Politics

To Serve God and Mammon: Church-State Relations in American Politics

To Serve God and Mammon: Church-State Relations in American Politics


Newly revised and updated, To Serve God and Mammon is a classic in the field of religion and politics that provides an unbiased introduction and overview of church--state relations in the United States.

Jelen begins by exploring the inherent tension between the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment. He then examines how different actors in American politics (e.g., the courts, Congress, the president, ordinary citizens) have different and conflicting values that affect their attitudes and actions toward the relationship between the sacred and the secular. Finally, he discusses how the fragmented nature of political authority in the United States provides the basis for continuing conflict concerning church--state relations.

This second edition includes analyses of various recent court cases and the implications of living in the post--9/11 era. It also features discussion questions at the end of each chapter, a glossary of terms, and synopses of selected court decisions bearing on religion and politics in the United States.


A great deal has happened in the area of church-state relations since the publication of the first edition of To Serve God and Mammon in 2000. As is detailed in the book that follows, the Supreme Court has made several decisions in the area of church and state. These have included rulings that permit publicly funded vouchers to apply to tuition at sectarian schools, and offer religious groups limited protection from the U.S. Customs Service. Since the first edition, the Supreme Court has also declined to rule on an appellate court decision invalidating the use of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance recited in thousands of public schools daily.

In addition to the usual and continuing court battles over the meanings of religious establishment and free exercise, there have been two highly visible changes in the politics of church-state relations, as well as one change that is more gradual but no less important. The first highly visible change has to do with the shifts in many aspects of political and social life resulting from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In many ways, 9/11 represents a fundamental shift in the way Americans understand themselves and their role in the world. For the purposes of this volume, the main effect of 9/11 is the rather sudden increase in the salience of Islam, and the enhanced importance of attitudes toward Muslims living in the United States. Since exposure to religious diversity has been shown (as will be discussed in the pages that follow) to affect public attitudes toward church-state relations, the impact of 9/11 on church-state politics seems likely to be profound and ongoing, in ways about which we can only speculate.

A second highly visible change has been the enactment of laws permitting faith-based organizations (FBOs) to receive government funds to provide secular services. Initially enacted during the Clinton administration, FBOs were not fully implemented until the administration of George W. Bush. At this writing, President Obama has indicated a willingness to continue funding faith-based initiatives, albeit with changes in the details of the program. The increased government . . .

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