This chapter describes the intellectual foundations of the movement toward disestablishment during the revolutionary period. It argues that, while a variety of ideologies influenced the founders—Whig theories, classical and civic republicanism, Calvinism, evangelicalism—Enlightenment rationalism was dominant. The founders synthesized these ideologies into a coherent theory of republicanism that was secular in orientation. This chapter also examines political disestablishment at the state level, demonstrating the nation’s evolution toward greater religious equality.
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