The American Constitution and Religion

The American Constitution and Religion

RICHARD J. REGAN
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hgzgf
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The American Constitution and Religion
    Book Description:

    The Supreme Court’s decisions concerning the first amendment are hotly debated, and the controversy shows no signs of abating as additional cases come before the court. Adding much-needed historical and philosophical background to the discussion, Richard J. Regan reconsiders some of the most important Supreme Court cases regarding the establishment clause and the free exercise of religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2153-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Richard J. Regan
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. 1 THE REGIME PRINCIPLES OF THE CONSTITUTION
    (pp. 1-24)

    Meeting in Philadelphia from May to September 1787, the Constitutional Convention drew up an instrument of government for submission to the thirteen states. Rhode Island sent no delegates, and two important leaders of the American Revolution and future presidents of the United States were absent: Thomas Jefferson was in Paris as ambassador to France, and John Adams was in London as ambassador to Great Britain. Two fiery patriots, Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee, refused to attend. Nevertheless, the Convention included illustrious participants, such as Alexander Hamilton of New York, James Wilson and Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, and especially James...

  6. 2 THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND RELIGION
    (pp. 25-50)

    Above all else, the text of the Constitution controls its interpretation, since it is the very purpose of a written constitution to define what power government officials have and how they are to exercise it, both in relation to one another and in relation to private citizens. Some provisions are so specific that they require little or no interpretation. Article 2, sec. 1, cl. 5, for example, unambiguously prescribes that the president shall have attained thirty-five years of age. Accordingly, judges faithful to their oath of office would have no choice but to apply the provision exactly as it is...

  7. 3 THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT AND THE FIRST
    (pp. 51-72)

    The first session of the 39th Congress opened in Washington in December 1865.¹ Though elected with Lincoln in 1864, the Congress was serving under his successor, Andrew Johnson. The new president’s conservative reconstruction policy was becoming more evident to the Radical Republicans, who had originally hoped, with initial indications of success, to win him to their cause. The rupture between the president and the Radicals was looming, but not yet definitive. The Radicals’ plan for the South—to be accomplished with the president’s cooperation if possible, but against his will if necessary—focused on guarantees of black rights, including suffrage....

  8. 4 RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT AND GOVERNMENTAL AID TO CHURCH-RELATED SCHOOLS
    (pp. 73-101)

    Two principles seem to be central to the relation between government and religion in Western liberal democracies. The first guarantees to individual citizens and their associations freedom of specifically religious activity or inactivity and freedom of religiously inspired secular activity or inactivity, provided that exercise of those freedoms does not threaten substantial public interests. The second requires that the government be neutral in matters of religious belief or unbelief. Because liberal democracies are liberal, they espouse religious freedom, and because they are secular, they separate the business of government from that of religion. The two principles may be concurrently relevant...

  9. 5 RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC COLLEGES
    (pp. 102-141)

    Elementary schooling in colonial America, even when supported by public funds, as in Massachusetts, was religiously oriented and largely dominated by clerical authority. A transition, however, developed in the years following the Revolution. Stimulated by Enlightenment ideas and the authority of such prominent American thinkers as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, the goal of a common school open to all eligible students, supported by public funds, and free of sectarian instruction, received increasing acceptance in American communities. Other, more practical forces were also at work: the multiplication of Protestant sects, the arrival of non-Protestant religious minorities, and the increased number...

  10. 6 RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT AND OTHER QUESTIONS
    (pp. 142-163)

    Since the Revolution, the United States government has recruited military chaplains to provide for the spiritual needs of military personnel, especially in combat operations. There is an obvious secular civic interest in doing so. The government thereby redresses the lack of access to religious worship and counseling available to civilians that the government creates when it enrolls or conscripts citizens into military services. All but the most extreme secularists concede that this does not violate the religious establishment clause, despite its incidental benefit to religion. Moreover, the military services have an undeniable interest to integrate the chaplains into their chain...

  11. 7 THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION
    (pp. 164-204)

    Most liberals today endorse religious freedom for the same reason that they endorse freedom from governmental restriction of individual choice generally—namely, that the autonomous will of each individual constitutes what is good for that individual, and that governments should not restrict that choice unless it conflicts with the freedom of others. From this point of view, it does not matter what individuals choose or about what they choose. Thus most liberals today endorse religious freedom because it involves freedom, not because it involves religion, and because it insures civic peace in a pluralist society. But liberalism can be incorporated...

  12. 8 CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS TO WAR
    (pp. 205-219)

    The first conscientious objectors to military service in America were members of religious sects opposed to war as a matter of principle. Chief among these were the Quakers, the Mennonites, and the Brethren. There were also smaller pacifist sects like the Shakers. They won recognition from colonial legislatures and exemption from militia duty. They were legally required but rarely forced to pay special taxes or hire substitutes in the course of Indian conflicts, the French and Indian War, and the American Revolution.¹ During the Civil War, the states exempted religious conscientious objectors to war, but they were obliged to pay...

  13. 9 REGULATION OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND PERSONNEL
    (pp. 220-235)

    The First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion. There is no doubt that the free exercise clause absolutely protects freedom of religious belief and the freedom to adhere to any religious organization an individual may choose, but the freedom to act in accord with one’s religious beliefs is not absolutely guaranteed. Important secular public interests may run counter to religiously motivated activities. Organizations’ religious practices in soliciting funds, liability for taxes, conditions of employment, and methods of recruiting and retaining members are the main areas where religious practice may trigger government regulation.

    In soliciting funds, individuals and groups may...

  14. 10 WESTERN TRADITIONS OF CONSCIENCE
    (pp. 236-262)

    The purpose of this chapter is twofold: to survey the history of the termconsciencein Western thought and to indicate prominent theories on the rights and duties of conscience in relation to political authority. No culture without some idea of moral conscience has yet been discovered. Primitive societies did not speak of conscience, but they did appeal to the heart and loins to distinguish morally good from morally bad behavior. From the perspective of Western civilization, the Bible and Paul of Tarsus were important influences on the history of conscience.

    In the first book of the Hebrew Bible, the...

  15. APPENDIX: A TYPOLOGY OF CONFLICTS BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL CONSCIENCE AND PUBLIC LAW
    (pp. 263-270)
  16. TABLE OF CASES
    (pp. 271-276)
  17. INDEX OF NAMES
    (pp. 277-280)
  18. INDEX OF SUBJECTS
    (pp. 281-282)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 283-283)