The Constitutional Principle of Separation of Church and State Essay

The Constitutional Principle of Separation of Church and State Essay

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The Constitutional Principle of Separation of Church and State

It has been suggested that there is currently a culture war taking place in the United States. Depending on who you listen to, you will get vastly different descriptions of the two sides. Some will insist that the fight is between the upholders of strong Christian, moral values and godless, secular-minded, moral relativists. Others will tell you that defenders of religious freedom and rational thought are battling religious fundamentalists who wish to impose their radically conservative views on the whole of the American populace. Regardless of which way you view the debate, the entire so-called “culture war” boils down to a basic disagreement over the place of religion in public life. In light of President Bush’s recent nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, I believe it is prudent to have a thorough discussion of the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state, because how the Supreme Court rules on issues related to this principle in the future will have a profound impact on how we define ourselves as a country. In order to conduct a thorough inquiry into this debate, I believe it is necessary to start at the beginning and attempt to discern how our founding fathers viewed religion’s place in public life, and how they relayed this view in the First Amendment. After I have done this, I will try to apply some of the principles I have gathered to current hot-button social issues which are likely to come before the Supreme Court in the not too distant future.

Proponents of a highly limited separation of church and state often argue that America’s founding fathers would be appalled at the extent to which the Judeo...


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...ically examine the people we choose to let sit on our nation’s highest court. No person should be afforded a free ride to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court without some assurances that they will protect and uphold basic Constitutional principles such as the separation of church and state. Failing to do so might well lead to a nation in which we are all less free, just the kind of nation that our founding fathers went to such extraordinary and terrific lengths to avoid.

Works Cited

Feldman, Noah. "God, government and you." USA Today 10/17/2005.

Allen, Brooke. "Our Godless Constitution." Nation 280.7 (2005): 14-20.

Isaacson, Walter. "God of Our Fathers." Time July 2004: 62-63.

Jacoby, Susan. "In Praise of Secularism." Nation 278.15 (2004): 14-18.

Boston, Rob. "James Madison and Church-State Separation." Church & State 54.3
(2001): 10-14.

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