Separation of Church and State

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Introduction Separation of Church and state has been a topic seen by the Supreme Court over the past 150+ years. Our countries religious freedoms and how it’s interpreted have been debated by both sides with reasonable argument. The framers of our federal government had laid down a series of guidelines for a free and prosperous society. One of the most controversial clauses in the First Amendment of our Constitution where it states that no law will endorse a religion or prohibit the rights of the people to exercise their religious rights has been part of a national debate since the First Congress was in session. Can you blatantly ignore a religion and make sure they don’t get any government funding for their schools because of their religious status? Is it constitutional to ignore drug laws because it is a person’s religious belief to use them in their practice? In this essay I will show through the Framer’s papers, early political debates and various Supreme Court cases to show why establishment clause and free exercise clause were put into the Constitution in order to “building a wall of eternal separation between Church & State.” Historical Context To understand what the Framer’s of the Constitution thought was an appropriate relationship between a government and a religious institution, we first should look at their own writings and speeches to understand what their belief on this issue had been. It is true that like most issues brought to the table at the Constitutional Convention, the issue of the religion in government had been a thoroughly argued topic among the Framers. There is no doubt that the battle to structure the separation issue ended when the Constitutional Convention shut its doors. ... ... middle of paper ... ...eacon Press, 1951. McConnell, Michael M. "The Origins and Historical Understanding of Free Exercise of Religion."Harvard Law Review. 103.7 (1990): 1409-1517. Powell, Jefferson H. “The Original Understanding of Original Intent.” Harvard Law Review Vol. 98, No. 5 (Mar., 1985), pp. 885-948. Cambridge: The Harvard Law Review Association. Reynolds v. U.S., 98 U.S. 145 (1878) 98 U.S. 145 Rossiter, Clinton. 1787: The Grand Convention. 1st ed. New York: Macmillan, 1966. Print. Seixas, Moses, and George Washington. "To Bigotry No Sanction." American Treasures of the Library of Congress. Library of Congress, 27 Jul 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2012. . Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963) Sofaer, Abraham D. "The Presidency, War, and Foreign Affairs: Practice under the Framer." Law and Contemporary Problems. 40.2 (1976): 12-36.
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