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date: 25 June 2018

Abstract and Keywords

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibited the government advocating or endorsing religion, and at the same time recognized the the right of religious people and organizations to play an active role in the discussion of public issues. This religious advocacy of American religious institutions has been strengthened by the Supreme Court of the United States by recognizing the right of such organizations to take strong positions on public issues. This article outlines some of the ways in which the political advocacy of some religious communities became institutionalized in the United States in the twentieth century. It discusses the formation of national religious groups and the positions they took on some key religious liberty issues, particularly those certain church–state cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. This five-part article discusses these issues—the emergence of the federal council of churches; the emergence of protestant alternatives; the establishment of clause battles; the introduction of civil rights and liberties; and the mobilization of the Christian right—in a chronological manner.

Keywords: First Amendment, right, United States Constitution, religious advocacy, American religious institutions, political advocacy, national religious groups, religious liberty issues, council of churches, protestant alternatives

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