chapter  1
21 Pages

The Religion Clauses

Competing Religious Values
WithTed G. Jelen

Among the more prominent characteristics of contemporary American politics is the frequency with which religious values and beliefs are voiced in the making of public policy. Political and legal controversies over the public articulation of religion were particularly evident. Even a casual observer could not have missed the mass media coverage of one or another political issue involving the relationship between church and state. Religion is not inherently “liberal” or “conservative” but generally promotes a set of values transcending the terms of contemporary political discourse. Although there is a political aspect to religion in many nations, some aspects of the relationship between church and state in the United States appear unique. The specific source of the persistent legal conflict over church–state relations in the United States is the fact that the relationship between the sacred and the secular is a matter of constitutional principle. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.