The separation of church and state

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The separation of church and state has been a long debated topic in the history of America. Although founded upon Christian ideals, the framers of the Constitution explicitly outlined the government to function secularly, in what is commonly referred to as the “Establishment Clause”. When interpreting the Constitution in regards to religion, there are two primary philosophies. The first philosophy this paper will explore will be referred to as Positive Toleration. In general, the idea of positive toleration creates an environment that is encouraging of all religions. The second philosophy, which will be referred to as the “Wall of Separation,” encourages government freedom from religion. Although historically these two philosophies have jockey back and forth in public popularity, as America moves into the future, the Wall of Separation philosophy will take a strong-hold and will set the course for how the Establishment Clause will affect local government, schools, and private religious practice.
The legal basis for religious freedom cases is founded in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. 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.” From this statement, two schools of interpretation were born.
The first school of thought, Positive Toleration, was championed by Roger Williams. His philosophy is centered on the idea that the government has a duty to create an environment where religion is not inhibited by the government. Williams argued that the church needed t...

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...titutional. The opinion of the court was delivered by Justice Black, he states: “there is, and can be, no dispute about the purpose or effect of the Maryland Declaration of Rights requirement before us -- it sets up a religious test which was designed to, and, if valid, does, bar every person who refuses to declare a belief in God from holding a public "office of profit or trust" in Maryland. The power and authority of the State of Maryland thus is put on the side of one particular sort of believers -- those who are willing to say they believe in "the existence of God.”
The decision by the Supreme Court created a wall of separation between the church and that state. It is plausible to conclude that a positive toleration approach would have recommended the amending of the Maryland constitution to include the statement of faith as an option rather than requirement.

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