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Representing GodChristian Legal Activism in Contemporary England$
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Méadhbh McIvor

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691193632

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691193632.001.0001

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Palm Fronds in the Public Square

Palm Fronds in the Public Square

(p.1) Introduction Palm Fronds in the Public Square
Representing God

Méadhbh McIvor

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of Christian legal activism. In a rapidly changing religious landscape, Protestant Christianity — although it remains both legally and culturally established — has become relativised. This relativisation is, in many ways, the product of centuries' worth of political dispute and interreligious negotiation, as the legal privileges associated with established religion have been diluted. Yet it has taken on a particular salience in recent years, one which can be dated to a seismic shift in England's regulation of religion: English law's transition from viewing 'religious freedom' as a negative civil liberty to ensuring it as a positive human right. While many English Christians have responded to these changes with resignation, some have embraced modes of legal and political engagement born of very different church–state paradigms, including a litigiousness more often associated with the United States. Armed with law degrees, evangelical conviction, and 'a passion to see the United Kingdom return to the Christian faith', these activists lobby and litigate to contest what they see as Christianity's ousting from the public square. This book argues that a willingness to take on legal challenges to protect Christian values risks those same values' marginalisation, as moralities previously woven into the fabric of national life are filtered out from their quotidian context and rebranded as 'religion' or 'religiously motivated'.

Keywords:   Christian legal activism, Protestant Christianity, England, religious freedom, English Christians, Christianity, Christian values, marginalisation

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