Farewell to Christendom: The Future of Church and State in America

By Thomas J. Curry | Go to book overview

THREE
THE CONTINUING EMERGENCE
OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

The year 1789, in which Congress enacted the Bill of Rights, also 6Y3 marked the start of the French Revolution. Both events would entail momentous implications for Church and State in America and in France since both proclaimed the end of Christendom. This one common result, however, exhausted the similarities between the two countries in their approach to religion. Whereas Americans forbade their new government to exercise power in religious matters, the French endowed their new state with power over the Church. Revolutionary Americans believed that the free exercise of religion would nurture the virtue needed to maintain a republican form of government. For revolutionaries in France, religion came to be seen as the mortal enemy of the Republic. For Americans today, the contrast between those actions and attitudes of two centuries ago is particularly significant because both the imagery used and the justification for some Church-State decisions advanced in this country derive more from the French than from the American historical experience.


The French Revolution and Religion

In its initial phase, the French Revolution attempted to make religion a department of the State. By depriving the Catholic Church of its property, the French National Assembly rendered it dependent upon govern

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Farewell to Christendom: The Future of Church and State in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Farewell to Christendom *
  • Introduction 3
  • One - Setting the Context 7
  • Two - The Formation of the First Amendment 23
  • Three - The Continuing Emergence of Religious Liberty 46
  • Four - The End of Christendom and the Role of the Courts 71
  • Conclusion 108
  • Notes 116
  • Index 139
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