Odd things happen when you mix religion and politics. Just think of Constantine and the authority that the emperor had in calling synods and councils of the church, not to mention persecuting heretics with the threat of the sword. Or consider the oddity of a bishop of the church (in this case, the one in Rome) having police to patrol his own political territory, the Papal States. Of course, the idiosyncracies do not all come from the Old World. America has made its own notable contributions to the curious amalgam of religion and politics. From Protestants requiring Mormons to abandon polygamy for Utah to be admitted to the Union, to fears of Roman Catholic reproductive powers that led Protestants to promote contraception and family planning, America has not needed a state-church to experience the inconsistencies of faith-based politics.
Darryl G. Hart is Director of Fellowship Programs at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (Wilmington, Delaware) and author of several books including, John Williamson Nevin: High Church Calvinist (P&R, 2005) and A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State (Ivan R. Dee, 2006).
Issue: "Grace: How Strange the Sound" July/August 2007 Vol. 16 No. 4 Page number(s): 43-46
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