Religion: Church & State

The founding fathers of the U.S. borrowed many a principle and practice of statecraft. But they made a significant innovation—a total and organic separation of church & state. Most inventions need a bit of tinkering to get them working properly, and this one was, and is, no exception, as U.S. citizens could learn in detail last week from a monumental three-volume work, Church and State in the United States (Harper; $25).

The author, the Rev. Anson Phelps Stokes, 76, has been pegging away steadily at the subject for the last 13 years. As secretary...