The Future of Church-State Relations in the United States

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Since the middle of the 20th century, conflict over relations between church and state has animated politics in the United States. The controversy concerning the proper relationship between the sacred and the secular has rarely been more intense than the early 21st century in the United States. Why has it been so difficult to resolve issues of church–state relations in American politics, when such conflicts appear to have been managed quite successfully in other democracies?

My argument here is that the persistence of church–state conflict in US politics has two principal sources: the constitutional provisions governing church–state relations, and the decentralized structure of political authority in the United States. Some aspects of church–state conflict in the United States have deep historical roots, while others are as ephemeral as the day to day operation of electoral politics at the subnational level.


Church and state; Elections; Political campaigns; Religion


American Politics | Political Science

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