Freedom of religion
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Freedom of Religion. Establishment Clause. Incorporated under the “due process” clause of the 14 th amendment. Basic meaning: Government may not establish an official religion. But wording subject to different interpretations. .

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Freedom of Religion

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Freedom of Religion


Establishment Clause

Incorporated under the “due process” clause of the 14th amendment.

  • Basic meaning: Government may not establish an official religion. But wording subject to different interpretations.

  • “Separationist” view: No inter-involvement, “Wall of Separation” (Jefferson)

  • “Accomodationist” view: Government may allow some degree of religion/government inter-involvement, e.g. nativity scenes on school property, non-denominational prayers in public schools, etc.


Establishment Clause (Cont.)

The “Lemon Test” (Lemon v. Kurtzman). A Statute or practice is constitutional if it…

  • Has a secular (non-religious) purpose.

  • Neither advances nor inhibits religion.

  • Does not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.


Establishment Clause (Cont.)

Key Rulings

  • Engle v. Vitale, 1962: No state-sponsored prayer in public schools

  • Abbingdon v. Schempp, 1963: No devotional Bible Reading in public schools

  • State laws that require the teaching of creation science or prohibitthe teaching of evolution are not constitutional

  • State laws that requirethe posting of the 10 commandments in public schools are unconstitutional

  • “Released Time” for students is constitutional


Establishment Clause (Cont.)

Key Rulings (Cont.)

  • Christmas displays in town squares are constitutional as long as they include secular content

  • State aid to religious schools for textbooks, lunches, bus transportation are constitutional

  • State aid to religious schools for field trips, teacher salaries, counseling services, remedial education is not constitutional


Free Exercise Clause

Incorporated under the “due process” clause of the 14th amendment

  • Distinction between beliefand practice: belief is always protected, practice may be restricted if there is a compelling purpose for doing so.

  • Restricted Practices:

  • Polygamy

  • Not vaccinating children (Christian Scientists)

  • Not paying Social Security taxes (Amish)

  • Wearing a yarmulke in the military (Jews)


Free Exercise Clause

Protected Practices:

  • Not saluting the flag in public schools (Jehovah Witnesses)

  • Notsending children to school past the 8th grade (Amish)

  • Animal Sacrifices (Santeria)


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