Adams v. Jefferson: The Freedom of Public Religion
First Things 141 (March, 2004): 29-34.
11 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2020
Date Written: March 1, 2004
While Thomas Jefferson’s theory of strict separation of church and state has long captured the 20th century constitutional and cultural imagination, it was his friendly rival John Adams’ theory of the freedom of both private and public religion that dominated American life until the 1940s and is returning to prominence in recent United States Supreme Court cases. This latter view is manifest in the historical and recent cooperation of church and state and in the recent First Amendment accommodation of all public expressions of peaceable religions.
Keywords: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, religious freedom, religious establishment, church-state relations, First Amendment, establishment clause, wall of separation, state funding of religion, public schools, religion and education, religion, law
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