NOAH FELDMAN: A Church-State Solution
I. THE EXPERIMENT
II. OUR PRESENT PREDICAMENT
III. CLOSING THE RIFT
IV. FAITH IS NOT A CONVERSATION STOPPER
V. WHAT INCLUSION REALLY LOOKS LIKE
VI. THE PROBLEM WITH MONEY
VII. THE EXPERIMENT REVISITED
If we could be more tolerant of sincere religious people drawing on their beliefs and practices to inform their choices in the public realm, and at the same time be more vigilant about preserving our legacy of institutional separation between government and organized religion, the shift would redirect us to the uniqueness of the American experiment with church and state. Until the rise of legal secularism, Americans tended to be accepting of public, symbolic manifestations of faith. Until values evangelicalism came on the scene, Americans were on the whole insistent about maintaining institutional separation. These two modern movements respectively reversed both those trends.
The novelty of these developments does not mean they are wrong, of course. But in an America grown so religiously diverse that it can no longer easily be called ''Judeo-Christian,'' we need to learn from our history if we are to have any hope of constructing a single nation that will endure. Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus will have to join Protestants, Catholics, Jews and atheists in finding a resolution to our church-state problem that all can embrace. A solution that will work for our generation must bind us to the past. But like all successful nation-building, it will work only if it also sets a foundation for our future.