The Politics of Religious Conflict: Church and State in America

The Politics of Religious Conflict: Church and State in America

The Politics of Religious Conflict: Church and State in America

The Politics of Religious Conflict: Church and State in America

Excerpt

Writing the introduction to a new edition of a book ten years after its original publication puts grievous temptations in the way of an author.

How pleasant to simply draw the ring of a bulls-eye around what one wrote. This is especially true with a book such as this, which, by studying the churchstate politics of the mid-1960's, attempted to predict how the conflict would evolve in the 1970's and 80's. In fact, certain of the predictions hazarded in Chapter Five (The Church-State Prospect) have been borne out: church-state politics has remained largely a contest between professional advocates, and the secularization of Roman Catholic parochial schools, begun after Vatican II, has proceeded apace.

But the most important of my predictions has proved incorrect -- or at least premature. An ecumenical indifference has not developed to lessen the tensions over participation by church-related institutions in public welfare programs. While there has been some mellowing among Protestants (and even some important defections to the accommodationist ranks, e.g., among Lutherans), radical secularism remains as bitterly separationist as ever and is gaining allies (e.g., black groups). Nor has there been any help from the Supreme Court. There have been important decisions over the last decade, but they have served only to quicken conflict and make the Justices appear more confused and less legitimate in their pronouncements.

Change in the Issue and Group Contexty

The nature of the issues and the stakes of the parties have changed only in emphasis from the late 1960s. With the progressive flight of whites from . . .

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