Jordan, Will, "Religion in the Public Square: A Reconsideration of David Hume and Religious Establishment," Review of Politics, Vol. 64, No. 4 (Autumn, 2002), pp. 687-713.
While recent scholarship has attempted to clarify the Founders’ opposition to religious establishment, few pause to consider public establishment as a viable alternative. This study examines one of the eighteenth century’s least likely proponents of religious establishment: David Hume. Despite his reputation as an avowed enemy of religion, Hume actually defends religion for its ability to strengthen society and to improve morality. These salutary qualities are lost, however, when society is indifferent about the character of the religion professed by its citizens. Hume’s masterful “History of England” reveals that a tolerant established church is best equipped to reap the advantages of religion while avoiding the dangers of fanaticism. Hume’s differences in this respect from Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville are explored.