That's the title of a 2005 book by Noah Feldman, Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem — and What We Should Do About It. Inspired by Adam Miller's chapter-by-chapter discussion at T&S of Jim Faulconer's recent book Faith, Philosophy, Scripture, I am going to try a similar series with Divided by God. Feldman is a law professor at Harvard; the book is largely a historical review of the emergence and evolution of church-state law in the United States. That history and the present state of church-state law is often misrepresented, so this seems like a helpful discussion.
Feldman views the history through the lens of contemporary disputes over the role of religion in government or, more generally, how religion and government should interact. Two factors make this such a troubling issue in our time: (1) The dramatic expansion of government over the course of the 20th century, which created a lot more overlap and sources of potential conflict between government and religious institutions; and (2) the growing diversity of religious belief and practice over the course of the 20th century, which made the issue more complicated. So it is only in the 20th century that US Supreme Court was forced to confront the issues raised by the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause (which might better be termed the "no establishment clause").
Feldman summarizes current disputes by describing the two sides that set the terms of the present debate. First, there are values evangelicals, who "insist on the direct relevance of religious values to political life .... What all values evangelicals have in common is the goal of evangelizing for values: promoting a strong set of ideas about the best way to live one's life and urging the government to adopt those values and encourage them wherever possible." (p. 7). Then there are legal secularists, who "see religion as a matter of personal belief and choice largely irrelevant to government, and who are concerned that values derived from religion will divide us, not unite us" (p. 8). Legal secularists, he notes, are not necessarily non-religious in their personal beliefs, but believe that "government should be secular and that laws should make it so" (p. 8).
After covering the history in the first four chapters, we will return to legal secularists and values evangelicals in more detail in chapters five and six. Interestingly, the LDS position in the 19th century could probably be described as an early version of legal secularism, but has certainly shifted to the values evangelical camp since the Sixties.
Like this post on Facebook.