Ironic Encounter: African Americans, American Jews, and the Relationship Between Church and State

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1993

Publication Title

Catholic University Law Review


politics, Jews, African Americans


This Essay examines a paradox in contemporary American society. Jewish voters are overwhelmingly liberal and much more likely than non-Jewish white voters to support an African-American candidate. Jewish voters also staunchly support the greatest possible separation of church and state (which they refuse to distinguish from separation of religion and society, and especially from separation of religion and politics). Many liberal African-American candidates, however, such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, are also religious leaders and consequently bring a "pulpit style" to their campaigns. African-American candidates often fail to understand the effect of their religious identity and style upon Jewish voters who would otherwise be among their natural constituents. Moreover, Jewish Americans often fail to understand the significance of the role of the church in African-American life and politics.


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