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

Freedom of Religion


Establishment clause

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

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 cont1

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 cont2

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

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 clause1

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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