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Constitutional Faith$
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Sanford Levinson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152400

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152400.001.0001

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The “Constitution” in American Civil Religion

The “Constitution” in American Civil Religion

(p.9) Chapter One The “Constitution” in American Civil Religion
Constitutional Faith

Sanford Levinson

Princeton University Press

This chapter elaborates on the variety of “constitutional faiths.” It discusses the parallels between Protestant and Catholic approaches to Christian doctrine and “protestant” and “catholic” modes of approaching the U.S. Constitution. It argues that there is double message contained within the analogy of the Constitution to a sacred text or the Supreme Court to a holy institution. The first, emphasizing unity and integration, is the one we most tend to be familiar. The chapter proposes to examine the alternative message, which is the potential of a written constitution to serve as the source of fragmentation and disintegration. The analysis aims not only to present a somewhat different perspective from which to look at the Constitution, but also to attack by implication any confidence of having “the Constitution” as a common symbol guarantees meaningful national political unity.

Keywords:   constitutional faith, civil religion, Protestants, Catholics, U.S. Constitution, Christian doctrine

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