Ecclesiastical Law Journal


The Study of Law and Religion in the United States: An Interim Report

John Wittea1

a1 Director, Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University


The study of law and religion has exploded around the world. This article, prepared in celebration of the silver jubilee of the Ecclesiastical Law Society, traces the development of law and religion study in the United States. Despite its long tradition of strict separation of Church and state, and despite its long allegiance to legal positivism and intellectual secularisation, the United States has emerged as a world leader of the new interdisciplinary field of law and religion. Hundreds of American scholars, from different confessions and professions, are now at work in this field, and two dozen major research centres and journals have been established at American law schools. After canvassing some of the main themes and trends in American law and religion scholarship today, this article concludes with a brief reflection on some of the main challenges before Christian scholars who work in the field of ecclesiastical law.

(Online publication August 22 2012)