Separation of Church and State

The separation of church and state is currently the focus of much debate. The concept is increasingly challenged by religious groups and discussed in the media as conflicting claims move through the courts. This overview of the subject is organized around four questions: What is the historical background of the First Amendment, which established the separation—what was it meant to achieve, and why? How can we understand the current struggle over the “wall of separation”? Is there a way to ameliorate this conflict? And how do Friends relate to the separation? I will address each of these topics in

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George L. Alexander, a retired psychiatrist, grew up as a Presbyterian in Arkansas. He first encountered Quakerism as an undergraduate at Yale in the 1940s. He attended Pittsburgh (Pa.) Meeting, where his family was active for nearly 40 years.

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