Church, State, and the Crisis in American Secularism

Church, State, and the Crisis in American Secularism

Bruce Ledewitz
Distribution: World
Publication date: 06/01/2011
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-35634-5
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Since 1947, the Supreme Court has promised government neutrality toward religion, but in a nation whose motto is "In God We Trust" and which pledges allegiance to "One Nation under God," the public square is anything but neutral—a paradox not lost on a rapidly secularizing America and a point of contention among those who identify all expressions of religion by government as threats to a free society. Yeshiva student turned secularist, Bruce Ledewitz seeks common ground for believers and nonbelievers regarding the law of church and state. He argues that allowing government to promote higher law values through the use of religious imagery would resolve the current impasse in the interpretation of the Establishment Clause. It would offer secularism an escape from its current tendency toward relativism in its dismissal of all that religion represents and encourage a deepening of the expression of meaning in the public square without compromising secular conceptions of government.

Author Bio

Bruce Ledewitz is Professor of Law at Duquesne University School of Law and author of American Religious Democracy: Coming to Terms with the End of Secular Politics and Hallowed Secularism: Theory, Belief, Practice. Ledewitz is a recognized expert in the fields of constitutional law and criminal law.


“Bruce Ledewitz has produced a valuable book that raises important questions about the unique relationships between church and state, religion and secularism. Drawing on a rich collection of sources, Church, State, and the Crisis in American Secularism calls on Americans, both secular and religious, to find common ground.”
 — Senator Joe Lieberman

“In our often rancorous and genuinely difficult debates over Church and State, we need more people like Bruce Ledewitz who sets out in search for common ground and who tries to persuade rather than shout down those who disagree with them. He writes in the spirit of someone trying to move us forward, and even those who find much to argue with here will come to see Church, State and the Crisis in American Secularism as an excellent starting place for a more productive argument.”
 — E. J. Dionne, author of Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics after the Religious Right

“A fresh, provocative approach to longstanding problems concerning the relationship of church and state [that] will make people on every side of this debate think more carefully and fruitfully about their positions.”
 — Steven Goldberg, author of Bleached Faith: The Tragic Cost When Religion is Forced Into the Public Square

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Table of Contents

I. The Establishment Clause Crisis
1. What We Say: The Supreme Court’s Promise of Government Neutrality Toward Religion
2. What We Do: The Failure of the Supreme Court to Redeem the Promise of Government Neutrality
3. Why Only the People and Not History Can Resolve the Establishment Clause Crisis
4. Proposals That Have Failed to Resolve the Establishment Clause Crisis
II. Using Government Speech and Higher Law to Resolve the Establishment Clause Crisis
5. The Establishment of Higher Law
6. Using Religious Symbols to Establish Higher Law
7. Applying Higher Law in Church/State Issues
III. Using the Higher Law Establishment Clause to Save Secularism
8. The Failure of Secularism under the New Atheism
9. The New New Secularism and the Higher Law
10. Is God a Universal Symbol?
11. The New Politics of Higher Law Secularism
Conclusion: Perfecting Democracy

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