How the Founders Agreed About Religious Freedom But Disagreed About the Separation of Church and State

In The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religion and Politics in the U.S. (ed B. A. McGraw), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK., Chapter 8, 2016

Posted: 25 Jan 2017

See all articles by Vincent Phillip Muñoz

Vincent Phillip Muñoz

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 2016

Abstract

A broadly shared methodological commitment to originalism in church–state matters has not produced much agreement among Supreme Court justices. An underappreciated reason why is that, while the founders agreed about the existence and importance of a natural right to religious freedom, they disagreed over how to separate church from state. The aim of this chapter is to explain the founders’ shared and competing understandings of religious freedom. Part I explains the founders’ common understanding of the existence of a natural right to religious liberty. Part II considers the founders’ disagreement over how that natural right to religious liberty ought to limit the scope and exercise of governmental power in church–state matters. By better understanding how and why the founders agreed and disagreed about religious liberty, it is hoped that Americans today might more accurately and thoughtfully deliberate how best to protect our “first freedom.”

Suggested Citation

Muñoz, Vincent Phillip, How the Founders Agreed About Religious Freedom But Disagreed About the Separation of Church and State (April 2016). In The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religion and Politics in the U.S. (ed B. A. McGraw), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK., Chapter 8, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2902244

Vincent Phillip Muñoz (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science ( email )

217 O'Shaughnessy Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

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