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Even after, eight centuries, this provision of Magna Carta is one of the few that remains in effect. A statement of principle that the Church in England should be free from outside domination, it is an ancestor of our American belief in separation of Church and State and the guarantee of free exercise of religion contained in the First Amendment. In English history, people died for this principle, on various sides of the denominational divides. It was not always vindicated in practice. But, since at least the end of the thirteenth century, it has ever been on the statute books of England as a reminder of the moral integrity of the religious realm.


Originally published in 2014 by the Faulkner Law Review.