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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The culture wars continue to rage in America. In many ways modern American culture is decidedly secular, with little indication that theological concerns play a significant role in the everyday lives of most ordinary citizens. But certain pockets of American society, defined by both geography and politics, continue to exalt traditional religion despite a general overall demographic trend toward secularity. These tensions play out in many ways in public life but nowhere more visibly than in the judiciary, where the two sides struggle to move the legal consensus in their direction. Terms that have been part of the American vernacular for centuries—“church–state separation” and “religious freedom”—still remain open to interpretation, with each side claiming that tradition and precedent favors them. Recent cases, addressing issues such as legislative prayer, LGBT rights, the Affordable Care Act, and the Pledge of Allegiance, do little to resolve these tensions.

Keywords: secularism, separation of church and state, religious freedom, religious right, culture wars

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