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date: 27 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the sociocultural dimensions of the shifting phenomenology and constitutional place of religion in the United States since the Constitution was ratified. In particular, it considers the distinctive religio-legal formation that is constitutionally disestablished religion. It first outlines the challenges in specifying an appropriate referent for the word “religion” before providing an overview of the structural constitutional and legal framework according to which religion is regulated in the United States. Finally it turns to a discussion of how revisionist accounts of the drafting of the First Amendment and of the history of the constitutional founding, as well as a proliferation of amicus filings in the courts, have conventionalized a narrative about religion.

Keywords: religion, United States, Constitution, religious freedom, First Amendment, amicus filings, incorporation, establishment of religion, free exercise

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