With religion on the rise in America, maintaining the separation of church and state is now a pressing issue. This talk begins with an examination of the contemporary debate about the principle of separating religion from government. It argues that both sides of the contemporary debate are mistaken and explains why today even most well-meaning Americans are unable to mount a tenable defense of the principle. To understand what the principle actually means, it explores some of the history behind the principle, focusing on John Locke's crucial contributions. The lecture ends with a sketch of what a full philosophical argument for the separation of church and state looks like.
This talk was recorded at the 2009 Objectivist Summer Conference in Boston, MA.