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Precipitated by the Hosanna-Tabor Case , Winnifred Sullivan has written an interesting survey of the priority and influence, as well as the essential features, of “the Church” in legal discourse:

“Here the Court speaks of the doctrinal priority of “the church,” and presumably, therefore, of its current earthly would-be representatives . . . The Court here seems to be saying that, as Douglas Laycock, representing Hosanna-Tabor, did at oral argument, that “the church” is prior to the sacraments because the church forms the consciences of individuals. Preserving the hierarchical discipline and right to autonomy of the church is structural to the US Constitution evident in the priority which disestablishment (read as a rejection of Henry VIII’s rejection of the Pope in the Act of Supremacy) has to free exercise in the ordering of the religion clauses in the First Amendment itself, while acts performed in obedience to the religious conscience of the individual must bow to secular law.”

Read the rest at The Immanent Frame

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