My thesis is simply that the state has been assuming the essential features of a church and has been progressively asserting regulatory control over church activities as a sovereign right. Historically, the state has always been reluctant to permit exceptions to its policies. As long as the sphere of civil government was small and clearly delimited, the independence of other spheres of government—church, family, university, private association—was comparatively free from interference. In our own colonial history, the legislatures had enjoyed a similar freedom from interference by Parliament and the Crown until the French and Indian Wars depleted the national treasury. Similarly, the tax exemptions of churches seem increasingly imperiled at a time of inflation and budget cutting. But the revenue factor appears to be only one of several. Social legislation and land use planning may be having a greater and longer-lasting impact on church-state relations.
Samson, Steven Alan, "Invisible Strings: The Regulation of Religion in the Beneficent State" (1981). Faculty Publications and Presentations. 30.