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 Both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause bar the government from interfering with the decision of a religious group to fire one of its ministers.


Controversy between church and state over religious offices is hardly new. In 1215, the issue was addressed in the very first clause of Magna Carta. There, King John agreed that 'the English church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired.' The King in particular accepted the 'freedom of elections,' a right 'thought to be of the greatest necessity and importance to the English church.' J. Holt, Magna Carta App. IV, p. 317, cl. 1 (1965).


That freedom in many cases may have been more theoretical than real. See, e.g., W. Warren, Henry II 312 (1973) (recounting the writ sent by Henry II to the electors of a bishopric in Winchester, stating: 'I order you to hold a free election, but forbid you to elect anyone but Richard my clerk'). In any event, it did not survive the reign of Henry VIII, even in theory. The Act of Supremacy of 1534, 26 Hen. 8, ch. 1, made the English monarch the supreme head of ...

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