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Law, Person, and CommunityPhilosophical, Theological, and Comparative Perspectives on Canon Law$
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John J. Coughlin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199756773

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756773.001.0001

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The Impact of Neutral Rules on Hierarchical Churches

The Impact of Neutral Rules on Hierarchical Churches

(p.215) Chapter 8 The Impact of Neutral Rules on Hierarchical Churches
Law, Person, and Community

John J. Coughlin

Oxford University Press

The previous chapter's case study of the Supreme Court's invalidation of government programs of aid to religious schools during the twentieth century suggests that a strict-separationist approach cannot be justified on the ground of the original intent of the First Amendment. In an alternative and more recent approach to church-state relations, the Supreme Court has attempted to apply neutral rules. The Supreme Court's shift to the neutral rules approach is an implicit acknowledgment of the historical problem presented by strict separationism, while at the same time the shift indicates the Court's intention to adhere to the separation doctrine. This chapter asks whether or not the Court's approach is in fact neutral when applied to hierarchical churches.

Keywords:   church-state relations, Supreme Court, separationism, First Amendment, neutral rules

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