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Church and State

Course Description:

Church and State are two side-by-side top authorities within the United States.  On account of the First Amendment, every American has the constitutional right to freedom of religion, yet all citizens are required also to submit to public law.  The Establishment Clause provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."  What happens when the Supreme Court, not Congress, makes a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion?  What happens when religion is corrupted? This is a course about authority in society, targeted to board members of churches and nonprofits as well as to professionals in law and government.

Guiding Questions:

  • What is the civic religion in America?  How is "religion" legally defined?

  • Which authority trumps the other?  Church or State? 

  • Who has the authority to hold a religious organization accountable?

  • How much power does religion have to hold the State accountable?

  • What is the ministerial exception?

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