Mooney - Law and the Social Character of Religion

January 20, 2006

Christopher F. Mooney
Law and the Social Character of Religion
University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame Indiana, 1986

Mostly focused on current events, but one very good insight.
"Before we begin, however, let me make one important observation. To designate our general discussion area as that of church and state can be misleading. The problem as it exists in America is not so much a relationship between two institutions as one between two outlooks of the individual, his outlook as a citizen and his outlook as a member of a religious denomination. For in a democracy, where soveriegnty resides in the people, the struggle between God and Caesar must necessarily be internalized. To porject it outward, to deal with it as wholly objective, is to miss its key dimension. What we are really dealing with in America is a competition between two religions, the one civil, the other denominational. It is up to the individual citizen to balance these tow sets of claims, to decide upon the extent of his allegiance to each. 2 Historically our nation has attempted through its ideals and goals to bind the people together under God, giving them, however unsuccessfully at times, a genuine apprehension of God's transcendent reality. Americans have thust ended to find the symbols of ultimate meaning not only in their churches but also in their country. Hence the so-called 'conflict between church and state' is basically an attempt by citizens with allegiance to both institutions to evaluate and criticize the one by criteria received from the other. We should not be surprised, then, to find tensions in this area which are perennial, built as they are into the whole fabric of our society. . . . " 21-22
[Note 2 cites Mead "The Fact of Pluralism and the Persistence of Sectarianism" in Ewyn Smith [ed] The Religion of the Republic. Also Loren Beth The American Theory of Church and State, 141-2.]

"Religious pluralism was a fact in America long before it became an object of belief." 22

Rest is not so useful for me.

Posted by Red Ted at January 20, 2006 02:55 PM | TrackBack
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