Government for the Time Being
Matters of Faith, Austin Sarat, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2012
11 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2012
Date Written: 2012
This short paper is a response to Steven Smith’s argument for an institutional understanding of the Establishment Clause. It challenges Smith’s dismissive posture toward the classical understanding of the “secular.” The classical understanding takes secular to refer “to this time and this world (as opposed to some other time or world, such as ‘eternity’ or the hereafter,” rather than simply denoting a “nonreligious” viewpoint. By focusing on three presuppositions underlying the classical account — (1) the kingship of God, (2) the presence of the church, and (3) the expectation of a world-to-come — the paper argues that the classical account provides a more robust limitation on government than is commonly assumed.
Keywords: Establishment Clause, Steven Smith, Secular, Eschatology, Christian Legal Thought
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