As America Grows Less Religious, Can the Tocqueville Model Still Work?

That is: can the separation of church and state function for an increasingly unchurched people whose secular passions rely on the exercise of state power?

Activists during a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, 2005. Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Activists during a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, 2005. Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Last Word
Aug. 25 2016
About the author

Richard Samuelson is associate professor of history at California State University, San Bernardino and a fellow of the Claremont Institute.


I want to thank David E. Bernstein, Wilfred McClay, and Peter Berkowitz for their kind words and thoughtful responses to my essay. In effect, all three suggest that, for American liberals and progressives, anti-discrimination is becoming nothing short of a religion, albeit one that denies it. More: it is becoming an established religion—a “secular theocracy,” in McClay’s words—and an official doctrine enforced by government.

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More about: Politics & Current Affairs, Progressivism, Religious liberty