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07/13/2005 Archived Entry: ""

Lee Killough offers the flow and a synopsis of the following debate on the separation of church and state...

Lee writes, Scholar Noah Feldman proposes new church-state guidelines, which would prohibit religious coercion and state funding of religion, but would allow religious symbols to be erected by governments based on democratic wishes.

Jack Balkin criticizes Feldman, saying that it is precisely the symbols which polarize.

Feldman responds.

More criticism {{link http://www.crescatsententia.org/archives/2005_06_30.html#005649 here.

Feldman's new book and the Economist's review.

To summarize my own view, I think the Lemon test is fine, and should be preserved. I think the problem is more basic than church and state -- I think that too many things are statized and politicized today, creating inevitable conflicts which would not boil over had they been kept in the private sphere to start with. I would propose that a Lemon-like test be extended further, to cover issues besides just church and state. I like to say that I am a "radical separationist" -- I'm for the separation of church and state, school and state, money and state, medicine and state, marriage and state, banking and state, and so on. Lots of social conflicts would be diffused if these institutions were destatized. Let private contracts and private property, rather than the law, decide these things. (For long-winded details of my church-state views, see my page.

But I also agree with Balkin that religious symbols are what polarize, and are what make groups feel ignored or supported politically.

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