Church-State Relations in America

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Church-state relations in America has been widely discussed and hotly debated. One school of thought holds that the church should be absolutely separated from the state, while another holds that the church plays a moral role in state building and its sanctity, without which the state risks falling apart. In my discussion of the church-state relations, I state that the history of church-state relations has a Constitutional basis. Next, I discuss the two schools of thought in context and how they have shaped contemporary American political thought. Finally, I argue that the two schools of thought have a common ground. This is followed by a summary of my key arguments and a conclusion to my essay.

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States establishes religious freedom, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Against the Constitutional background, Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father, wrote a Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom. The Bill was passed in the Virginia General Assembly in 1777. However, Jefferson thought that it was not enough to have a Constitutional provision that debars Congress from establishing a religion for all; it was equally important to separate the Church from the state to allow Religious Freedom, so that each and every one will practice their religions freely without government restrictions. Thus, he opposed the interference of the state in religious practices. Secondly, Jefferson argued that if the state was allowed to interfere with the affairs of the church it will give the government the power to persecute those who oppose its policies. The man, whose ideas and ideals have been shaped by experience and practice,...

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...ality and virtue of the state.

In summary, I have stated the Constitutional basis with respect to the history of church-state relation in America. I have stated clearly the two doctrines of separation of church and state versus using religion to bolster morality and virtue of the republic. And I have argued that the two doctrines have a common ground in conscience and morality.

I conclude that the role of the church in the state is indispensable to the extent that it produces morally upright leaders. However, it cannot influence public policies by imposing its doctrines on the state or coercing any politician or political entity thereof.

Works Cited

1. Kramnick, Isaac and Lowi, Theory, J. American Political Thought: A Norton Anthology. W. W. Norton, 2000.

2. Shklar, Judith, N. Redeeming American Political Thought. University of Chicago Press, 1998.
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