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Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas

Stephen M. Feldman

Feldman, a professor of law, builds a persuasive case against the "dominant story of the separation of church and state." The first claim of that story, that "the separation of church and state stands as a constitutional principle that promotes democracy and equally protects the religious liberty of all," obscures the extent to which the separation has privileged Christianity by protecting the de facto establishment of a religious culture more concerned with defending Protestantism than with protecting religious liberty. The second claim, that "the principle emerges as a unique American contribution to political theory," obscures the extent to which separation of church and state is rooted in 2,000 years of Christian history--and the extent to which it is entangled with institutionalized anti-Semitism. At a time when debate rages around issues associated with the establishment clause of the First Amendment--including school prayer and public displays of Christian religious symbols--and at a time of resurgent anti-Semitism, Feldman's carefully reasoned and meticulously documented case is particularly welcome.

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  Church and State

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