A Magna Carta of Highest Liberties: Magna Carta, Dissenting Religion, and American Protestants

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...the history of the Magna Carta has a special relationship to the history of religious dissent; the waxing and waning of the Great Charter as a protector of liberties often coincides with the rise and fall of active religious revival and dissent. I think this correlation is no coincidence and that religious dissenters have a special sensitivity to the three areas described above.

My area of specialty and focus in this essay is American Protestant dissent, but in my reading on the background of the Magna Carta, I have been struck by the role that religion, at least in what I would term its prophetic, dissenting role, has played at key junctures in its history. Where appropriate in my discussion, I will also touch on where these earlier manifestations of religious dissent have influenced the Great Charter.

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Journal of Church and State

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First Department

Church History