The current opinion of courts is that the First Amendment bans religion in our government to protect the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from the government. The first amendment does not say church and state should be separate since our founders understood if church and state were completely separate, our government would fall apart. The First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The first amendment does not state that there was such a separation, but that there was a “wall of separation” which the government could not break. The misunderstood statement from Thomas Jefferson has resulted in Judges who ignore the Constitution and the original intent of the First Amendment of our Founding Fathers (Bonta). The first amendment did not state that there was such a separation, but that there was a “wall of separation” which the government could not break.
If we fail in our school policies and classrooms to model and to teach how to live with differences, we endanger our experiment in religious liberty and our unity as a nation. According to the First Amendment of the Constitution, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (usconstitution.net). The writers of the Constitution made it an important point in protecting freedom and religion. The writers then even stressed the importance of being able to be in any religion that suited a person. “The First Amendment of the Constitution removes government from the realm of religious belief and practice so that the state can neither subvert nor manipulate religion to serve secular, public ends” (Keynes and Miller 177).
The Constitution of the United States was written to give citizens certain privileges and rights in the way of free thought and freedom. The Establishment Clause was one way that civilians were protecting religious liberty by the separation of church and state. Within our political and school systems there have been a number of controversial issues to include religious holidays, school prayer, teaching evolution and aid to church based schools. The Supreme Court has ruled in many cases in regards to these religious controversial issues. The First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” (University, n.d.).
The constitution was then rewritten with God’s name removed. The issue whether or not church and state should be separate didn’t evolve until the 19th century, and today it is hot topic among both separationists and accommodationists alike. Separationists are the people who push separation of church Separationists feel that neither state nor the federal government can set up churches / aid religion; there should be absolutely no governmental funding of religious activity/displays, any praying in public school / teaching of evolution. On the opposing side, accommodationists oppose separation between church and state, interpreting the first amendment exactly as it is stated. No where in the first amendment does it say “separation of church and state .
Prayer should not be allowed in the public school system because of the idea of separation of church and state and the First Amendment. To have prayer in the public school system is against the idea of separation of church and state. The state should not institute school prayer because the public schools are for education, not a place where religion should be taught (Gaylor, 1995, p. 1). The state should not force every child to say a prayer in the classroom because not everyone believes... ... middle of paper ... ...,” (1875), Ulysses S. Grant stated to “Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate” (Gaylor, 1995, p. 7).
Finally, I argue that the two schools of thought have a common ground. This is followed by a summary of my key arguments and a conclusion to my essay. The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States establishes religious freedom, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Against the Constitutional background, Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father, wrote a Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom. The Bill was passed in the Virginia General Assembly in 1777. However, Jefferson thought that it was not enough to have a Constitutional provision that debars Congress from establishing a religion for all; it was equally important to separate the Church from the state to allow Religious Freedom, so that each and every one will practice their religions freely without government restrictions.
1. In the First Amendment, the clause that states “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion” is based on the Establishment Clauses that is incorporated in the amendment. This clauses prohibits the government to establish a state religion and then enforce it on its citizens to believe it. Without this clause, the government can force participation in this chosen religion, and then punish anyone who does not obey to the faith chosen. This clause was in issue in a court case mentioned in Gaustad’s reading “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land”.
I. The Supreme Court has adopted a standard of neutrality to satisfy the Establishment Clause stating: neither federal or state government can enact laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another, and neither can force nor influence a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. Everson v. Bd. of Educ., 330 U.S. 1, 15 (1947). The means that the Martin County Board cannot actively endorse any one particular religion over another and also cannot restrict any one particular religion.
If this were allowed to be posted by government officials and if it influences our youth in schools in any way than by definition America will have created a state-endorsed religion which is in direct conflict with religious freedom. A state-endorsed religion is a direct violation of every American citizen’s first amendment. The first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” (Bill of Rights). The US Government has a duty to its people to uphold its constitutional laws that founded this country. If the US Government allows government building to post the Ten Commandment it loses its neutrality on religion because it will have to choose a version of the Ten Commandments that it will display, violating right of Americans.
Religion in Public Schools The practice of religion has been a major factor in American culture for centuries. The religion clause of the First Amendment, which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," was developed to preserve the freedom of religion (Haynes 2). The religion clause was designed to protect religion from the control of the government, but, consequently, it restricts the expression of religion in public institutions such as public schools. This highly debated issue of religion in public schools is supported by the belief that religion is critical to the formation of a healthy society but is disputed on the basis that the church and the state must remain separate to protect the freedom of religion. Controversies arise over the interpretation of the exact limits of religion in regards to public schools.