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38 Notre Dame L. 115 (1962-1963)


Engel v. Vitale was a landmark case which marked a jurisprudential shift in the constitutional meaning of the Establishment Clause. This paper, written in the aftermath of this important case, reflects on, and contrasts, England's historical establishment of the Church with historical nonsectarianism in the United States. After analyzing the role which the tripartite Protestant-Catholic-Jew nonsectariansm played in society before Engle, the paper suggests that nonsectarianism served the beneficial purpose of directing the whole institutional structure of society toward the last end of human beings. With the passing of nonsectarianism, the nation is left with the problem of accurately and adequately institutionalizing the defining national religious consensus that we, as a nation, continue to feel. This paper concludes that, resonant with the religious consensus and spirit of freedom in brotherhood which permeate this nation, the old system of nonsectarianism can best be replaced by a system of dialogue, based on mutual understanding and respect rather than on agreement.


Reprinted with permission of Notre Dame Law Review (previously Notre Dame Lawyer).


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