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Christmas Wars in France

I used to think that the annual Christmas Wars were strictly an American thing, like corn dogs and attorneys’ contingency fees. Only in America, I thought, do people seriously argue about whether to allow Christmas trees in public parks or to permit public school choirs to sing “Silent Night” at holiday concerts. The issues become more and more bizarre. This year, a Maryland school district decided to remove even a reference to “Christmas” in the school calendar–as though the reference amounted to religious oppression and removal would make people forget what holiday comes round every 25th of December. Continue Reading »

Public Schools and the Wall of Separation

The famous phrase “wall of separation of church and state” today enjoys the status of legal precedent, but here’s a curious fact. The phrase comes from the letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Connecticut Baptists who feared that state politicians would suppress them. When the Baptists received the letter, however, they didn’t celebrate and publicize the statement. They didn’t even record it in the minutes of their proceedings. “They pretend it never existed.” Continue Reading »

A King in Israel

Israel is a Jewish state but has not succeeded in defining just what that means in a national constitution. Although the 1948 Declaration of Independence called for the enactment of a constitution within months of the state’s inception, nothing has been achieved beyond a fragmentary “Basic . . . . Continue Reading »

The Churches of Earthly Power

Michael Burleigh’s study of European religion and politics requires us to imagine a very different Europe than the one we behold today—not the polity of bureaucrats in Brussels but a Europe of statesmen and revolutionaries who aimed at the most extravagant notions of national . . . . Continue Reading »

Bonhoeffer and the Sovereign State

Sin and the Fall are what make government necessary. As such, government is not that which helps the human person to flourish, and Luther insists on the restraints and limits of government. Government is indeed, Bonhoeffer declares, “independent of the manner of its coming into being.” It is . . . . Continue Reading »

Liberalism vs. Religious Freedom

Religious Liberty in the Supreme Court: The Cases that Define the Debate over Church and State terry eastland november 1995, eerdmans, $31.50For all their concern about the rise of anti-democrats in post-Soviet Russia, when it comes to the decisive excellence of the American regime our . . . . Continue Reading »

Statement on Church and State

June 17, 1948 Recent decisions of the Supreme Court have extended the meaning of the constitutional prohibition of an establishment of religion so that any action by the state that is intended to benefit all religious bodies without discrimination is forbidden. This development of the conception of . . . . Continue Reading »

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