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date: 24 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Bible has had a significant impact on American law and constitutional tradition. The early colonists who settled in British North America brought with them the English common law, a system of jurisprudence that its leading authorities claimed was based on Christianity. Moreover, laws framed in the colonies, especially in New England’s Puritan commonwealths, drew explicitly and extensively on biblical law. As secular and separationists perspectives gained a following in the second half of the eighteenth century and the centuries thereafter, the Bible’s influence on law faced increasing challenges, and only laws that can be defended on secular grounds have survived into the twenty-first century.

Keywords: Blasphemy laws, common law, Thomas Jefferson, Mosaic law, Oaths, Sabbath, Scopes Monkey Trial, Sunday laws, Ten Commandments

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