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American Constitutional Faith and the Politics of Hermeneutics

  • Andrew R. Lewis (a1), William D. Blake (a2), Stephen T. Mockabee (a1) and Amanda Friesen (a3)

Abstract

As more debates in American politics become constitutional questions, effective citizens must engage in constitutional interpretation. While most Americans venerate the Constitution as a part of a national, civil religion, levels of constitutional knowledge are also very low. In this paper, we analyze how ordinary Americans approach the task of constitutional interpretation. An analysis of two cross-sectional surveys indicates constitutional hermeneutics are a product of political factors, religious affiliation, and biblical interpretive preferences. We also present the results of a survey experiment where the manipulation of a clergy's interpretation of a biblical passage affects how respondents interpret both scripture and the Constitution, providing a potential causal mechanism for learning how to engage in hermeneutics.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Andrew R. Lewis, University of Cincinnati. E-mail: Andrew.Lewis@uc.edu

References

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