How is America 'Divided by God'?

Mississippi College Law Review, Vol. 27

San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 07-111

29 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2007


Americans are fundamentally divided over the proper relation between government and religion, and that this division manifests itself in increasingly acrimonious disputes over things such as public religious symbols and the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. These differences are unlikely to be resolved by straightforward appeals to constitutional history or precedent, so as scholars we would do well to go deeper and try to understand the underlying differences in presuppositions about religion, law, and pluralism. But what are the fundamental underlying differences in presuppositions that surface in more concrete controversies over crosses and curriculum and the like? Where exactly does the fault line lie, so to speak? This essay suggests that perhaps the most illuminating answer is suggested very early on in an important recent book by Noah Feldman: Americans are "divided by God." The essay goes on to explore, while indulging in some amateur theology and armchair sociology, how basic differences about God might animate the political and legal controversies that we have been observing.

Keywords: Religion, Belief, Culture Wars, Frist Amendment

JEL Classification: K00, K1, K10

Suggested Citation

Smith, Steven Douglas, How is America 'Divided by God'?. Mississippi College Law Review, Vol. 27; San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 07-111. Available at SSRN:

Steven Douglas Smith (Contact Author)

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
619-260-7969 (Phone)
619-260-2492 (Fax)

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