Supreme Court jurisprudence and the Religious Right : criticism and commentary regarding scripturally supported church-state separation.


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The Religious Right is the most influential religio-political movement in the United States in the last thirty years. Its ideological support comes largely from Francis Schaeffer, a Christian apologist who wrote against the influence of secular humanism in Western society and encouraged Christians in America to become politically active in order to stop abortion. Because of the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution, there has been much discussion from a political perspective about the role of religion in politics that argues that religion should not be used to justify legislation. In response, there has been both political and religious criticism of the removal of religion from public square. However, there has not been much said in defense of the principles of church-state separation that has attempted to draw these principles directly from a wide range of scriptures. This dissertation examines both Supreme Court jurisprudence and the Bible to establish whether there are common principles between the two. By focusing on the freedom of conscience and the non-imposition of morality, there is a way to interpret the biblical text to be in support of the general principle of separation of church and state and more specifically against the use of specifically Christian justifications as the basis for particular types of moral legislation. After establishing the principles scripturally and its commonality with the principles of Supreme Court jurisprudence, there is a criticism of Francis Schaeffer and the Religious Right. It seems that while the Religious Right may be correct in its biblical analysis of certain moral issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, that question is not the most important question. Instead, the question should be whether advocating for the use of coercive legislation in order to ensure morally correct behavior is the type of tactic a Christian should use upon examination of the principles within the Christian text. The weight evidence seems to suggest that the answer is no. However, this does not suggest that the Christian is to privatize his faith or have no effect on society. It is only the method that should change.



Separation of church and state. Religious right. Christian right. Francis Schaeffer. Religion. Christianity. Religion and politics. Supreme Court. Free Exercise Clause. Establishment Clause.