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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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Loyalty Oaths: The Creedal Affirmations of Constitutional Faith

Loyalty Oaths: The Creedal Affirmations of Constitutional Faith

(p.90) Chapter Three Loyalty Oaths: The Creedal Affirmations of Constitutional Faith
Constitutional Faith

Sanford Levinson

Princeton University Press

This chapter presents an extended treatment of our feelings about a variety of oaths and affirmations. Oaths are a mixture of pure form and substantive content. Their formal nature may remind us of the “contentless” seals formerly used to give legal validity to contracts. Vows also signify a desire to be considered a member of a particular community and a willingness to remain within its boundaries. This chapter focuses on the American political community and its extraction of loyalty oaths attesting to a shared commitment to certain beliefs—usually involving the legitimacy of the state, its particular political structure, or its ideological aspirations. It also considers two other kinds of communities. One is the classical religious faith community. The other is the marriage by which two individuals join together in constituting a special kind of common enterprise.

Keywords:   constitutional faith, civil religion, oaths, affirmation, American political community, religious faith, marriage

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