Separation of Church and State
This course will consider the meaning of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, with special attention given to the ways in which different definitions of "religion" and "politics" can affect the interpretation of their relationship. Our study of this American doctrine will begin with its historical foundations in the thought of Roger Williams, William Penn, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. We then will trace the evolution of interpretation through Supreme Court jurisprudence on church/state relations, primarily from the twentieth century. Finally, we will pay specific attention to the consequences of our interpretation on current debates over issues like school vouchers, faith-based initiatives, and the tax-status of religious organizations. 3 hrs. lect./disc.