Religion is properly separated because there is a fair amount of separation between church and state and the worth of religion doesn't always blind the purpose of government which is to protect the rights of people. Sometimes the lines of separation draw very near and it is difficult to distinguish the right decision from the wrong and so the Supreme Court, with power entrusted in it serves to distinguish the difficult applications of how laws and regulations relate to religion and the preservation of its practice so long as it is safe and warranted.
In its relation to religion, government not only protects religion but it also serves to prevent the promotion of one religion over the other, and in this is has done its best job. The case of Allegheny went into the depth understanding of this right to explain that there was a separation of religion and culture as well as the intentions of what religion has with the government. Religion as difficult as it is to separate also plays a cultural factor in the lives of people, and its regulation, improperly, can backfire and be catastrophic. The case of Everson vs the Board of Ed showed that the job of the government should consider the necessities of people above the dangers of religion so long as they maintain a separation in not hindering or promoting a religion.
Harder to argue for is the relationship between law and religion when one comes into conflict with the other. The free exercise clause of the 1st Amendment is the point of most moral and social conflict I believe when discussing how properly state and religion are separated because whereas the establishment clause can be less personal the free exercise clause, when it doesn't protect someone can be deemed improper regardless of the difficulty of the assessment of a case. The case of the Employment Division v. Smith the case was in favor of laws above the practice of religion and its exercise under the assessment that actions that are "illegal" or against can be accommodated for but are not required for. It is arguable that the nation is better off always allowing law to conquer what might be risque of a religion but that is not always the case. Its a tough job but it has been and surely will need to be done to maintain the separation that has to a great extent been proper.
You draw an interesting distinction here between the relationship of government and religion as opposed to the relationship of law and religion. It is easy to say that the government should only get involved with religion to enforce peoples' religious liberty, but everything becomes more complex when trying to figure out those laws.
Sami made a valid point with the case of Eversons vs the Board of ed on how the Gov't should preserve the common wealth of the people while making sure there is no promotion or hindering of a religion. The Gov't will make difficult decisions in cases involving religon and state by invalidating religious practices but will be necessary to ensure equality among religions and people.
I agree wiht Charlotte, it was an interesting choice to make that distinction. I especially like what you have to say about religion and law. The relationship between religion and law is definitely complicated because they often disagree. That disagreement is inevitable and the government will have to continue to work to ensure the separation between Church and State.
The separation of religion and government is not perfectly accomplished in this country (and nor do I believe it will ever be perfect), but I don't think it's in a bad place either. The balance of the power of the government vs. the sanctity of individual rights is something that has been shifting continually since the founding of the nation. I think it's fortunate for us and all generations of Americans that the Constitution was not strict about how the separation of church and state was to be carried out, because each generation can figure out for itself where and how it thinks the line should be drawn.
The present situation of religion in this country has come about largely due to key court decisions which have tried to sort out the messiness of religion in America. In Smith v. Employment Division of Oregon, the Supreme Court decided that the law is a higher power than religion; even when one's religious beliefs conflict with the law, one is still obligated to follow the law. In Everson v. Board of Education, the Court's decision suggested that the government can get indirectly involved with religious institutions if its doing so is minimal enough not to "breach the wall between church and state." In Reynolds v. U.S., the Court ruled that the "mormon duty" of polygamy did not excuse the fact that marriage to multiple wives is not permissible under U.S. law.
Today, I think that the separation of religion and government is relatively strong. However, there are some obvious points at which the government is interfering (I believe, inexcusably). For example, the targeting of Muslim-Americans under the pretense of seeking out terrorists.
Ooooh i agree with this. Especially since 9/11, and slightly like mccarthysism in the 50's and japanese internment except with religion, it seems like the government has used national security as a pretense to do things that would normally be absolutely illegal, and that's not fair because religion, even a particular one, is very vague and the discrimination can be considered a violation of the establishment clause, because it's hindering them.
I certainly agree with both of you. Charlotte makes a significant point that it's a good thing that the Constitution was not strict in the manner of how the church and state should be separated. It is only smart to allow each generation to interpret where the line should be drawn because as the times change, the standards, circumstances and morals of society alter as well. Also, I agree with Carla that it is unfair that the government seems to use national security as their excuse to do illegal things such as targeting Muslim-Americans in their claim to search for terrorists, as Charlotte stated. This is completely wrong because it invades their privacy and rights as American citizens, let alone human beings.
Religion can never fully be separated from government but I do believe that our government does a good job separating it as much as possible. I agree with Sami when he says that the division of religion and government is rather tricky. By having such fine lines in certain cases, it is sometimes hard to distinguish which is being violated; the law or the freedoms of the people. I also agree when Charlotte says that figuring out the laws exact meanings and interpreting them as well as deciding if they are constitutional or conflicting with our first amendment, can be very difficult and complex.
The case Engel versus Vitale, it shows that the government sometimes has to be involved in certain religious conflicts. When children were asked to recite a small prayer in the beginning of the school day and the decision was made that a small prayer was unconstitutional because there is a separation between Church and State. The case also set a precedent that government funded schools cannot integrate religious activities in any way. Next the case of Reynolds versus US demonstrated the case where religion conflicted with law. When a law was made banning polygamy in America it conflicted with the Mormon religion. The Supreme Court ruled that law trumps religious practices. The last case of Allegheny was when a Christmas tree, a Menorah and a Nativity scene were displayed outside of a city council building. It was ruled that the Menorah and tree were constitutional because they were examples of the holiday season not religion but since the nativity was a direct demonstration of religion it was unconstitutional because it would show the government favoring a religion.
The cases above prove that sometimes it is more complicated than Americans think to distinguish what is violating law and what is violating the first amendment. Yes, religion is supposed to be separate from state but when law or rights are being violated, religion or not, it is necessary for the government to be involved in order to protect the people and sometimes, to protect the laws and itself.
I agree with Charlotte, I believe that government and religion are as separated as they can be, but they are not fully separated. I think that with the help of the judicial branch whenever one side really abuses their powers, the judicial branch sorts out the issue successfully.
For example, in Engle v Vitale, the judicial branch prohibited a short daily prayer from being said in public schools because it goes against the establishment clause. It shows favoritism to one religion over another. The government cannot force one religion over another, and that was exactly what it was doing before it was decided by the judicial branch to stop the prayer. Another example is in Allegheny v American civil liberties union. The government appropriately said that the crèche was too religious. But a tree and a menorah were not. I think this is an appropriate decision because candles and plants do not have to hold any religious meaning if you don’t want them to, but the only way to see a crèche is as a religious symbol. I believe this shows a bit of religious favoritism, especially to the religions that aren’t represented as a tree or a menorah, but it is better without the crèche. My last example is Everson v Board of Education. There they said the government could pay for the fair to schools, whether religious or non-religious. That is good because it’s showing no preference to any religion, and all religions are treated equally. I think this is appropriate because parents want every student to have a chance to go to schools whether they are religious or not. Parents do not want their child to go to the religious school close to them, just because they cannot afford the transportation to the better farther away religious school.
In these three examples, the government allows religion to be a part of people’s lives, without restricting it, or showing one any preference. They only restricted it in these three specific cases when they thought that a certain government action was showing a bias towards certain religions. It is often hard to establish a line between government, and religion, especially when everyone views it differently.
I agree with you. Also, the transportation systems itself isn't religious. Only if the parochial school requested funding that would be a different issue. Of course, we're assuming nobody was using the Jesus transit.
Also, I don't see why we still have the pledge of allegiance. if it says "one nation under God" Isn't that almost like establishing a religion. I know it is optional and everything, but so was that prayer.
There will always be underlying circumstances in which one may feel religion is not properly separated from the state. However, I believe that our government tries its best in drawing the boundaries between church and state. I agree with Sami that sometimes those boundaries may be difficult to distinguish, but there have been many court cases that have improved the distinction between separation of church and state.
In the first Supreme Court case example of Everson vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled reimbursement of parochial transportation constitutional. The Supreme Court ruled this was a general program to help students to and from school and was entirely marked off from the religious sector. In no way did this breach the separation of church and state.
In the second Supreme Court case example of Engel vs. Vitale, the Board of Regents allowed students to recite an optional prayer. This was brought to the Supreme Court's attention and was ruled to be unconstitutional. The Court believed that it did not uphold the idea of the separation between church and state. If the Court were to allow it, it would show that they would be favoring one religion over another; that would contradict the Establishment Clause.
In the last Supreme Court case of Reynolds vs. the U.S., the Supreme Court ruled that polygamy was illegal because it practiced human sacrifice. It was argued that this did not uphold the idea of the Free Exercise clause. However, polygamy was not permissible under the law. Even though this was practiced under their religion, they were still obligated to follow the law.
Within these three example, we see the government allowing people to participate in religious activities so long as they do not breach the wall of separation. I agree with Paula that they do not show any favoritism towards a certain religion. The government does a good job in upholding both the ideas of the Establishment and Free Exercise clause. It is difficult to separate the ideas of religion and state, but it eventually boils down to the complexities and technicalities of the law.
Many people have argued over whether or not religion is properly separated from our government. I agree with Sara, who said that religion and government can never fully be separate. However, our government does an adequate job of drawing a clear line between the two. In Engel vs. Vitale, the New York State Board of Regents allowed for a prayer to be said at the beginning of each school day. While the prayer was optional, the Supreme Court found it to be unconstitutional because it violated the establishment clause of the Constitution. This demonstrated the government trying to set a clear separation of church and state. In Everson vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional for the New Jersey government to allow for reimbursements for parents with children traveling to any type of school through public transportation. The decision stated that providing money to students in parochial schools to travel to school had nothing to do with religion. The government was not giving any money to the schools, and did not violate the establishment clause.
In Reynolds v. the U.S., the Supreme Court was faced with the issue of polygamy. The Court ruled that it was unconstitutional and it violated the law. Like Chrystal said, the Court decided that even though those of the Mormon faith believed in polygamy, they still had to follow the law, which stated that polygamy was not legal. These cases are examples of the government doing their best to clearly separate church and state. While the government can never fully be separate from religion, the government is definitely making the best possible attempt to create a fine line between the two.
Yes I agree with Emma on how the Gov't is doing it's best to seperate religion and gov't. Although religious customs were being followed in the case of Reynolds and Smith, regardless the law was still broken and there was no choice but to deny those practices.
I agree with both Emma and Ibrahim in that although the government works hard at the Separation, whenever a law is violated though the expression of religion, the law of the land will have to come first and there isn't any legal way to approve those practices.
I also agree with Emma. The government is doing it's best. It is not possible for Religion and State to be completely separate. Religious customs are not allowed to break the law, therefore it is constitutional for a religious practice to be denied if it breaks any law.
I believe the U.S gov't did properly seperate religion from gov't to a good extent. The decisions made in cases involving religion and state were proper and helped keep the peace between the people and the gov't. Clearly the Gov't can't favor all of the customs of all religions because they conflict with the constitution and they can possibly endager the common wealth of the U.S people.
In the Case of Reynolds vs the U.S, the practice of polygamy was denied and Reynolds broke the law. If the Supreme court had allowed polygamy, then it would be endorsing the idea that it is ok to break a law to practice your own customs and this would allow any one to break the law. Asides from breaking the law, any one could simply lie about being morman and marry more than one domestic partner. In the case of Vitale vs Engel, gov't prayers were not allowed to be recited in public schools. The prayer simple said "God", which favored monotheism and thus this showed that the Gov't was endoring one type of religion. The decision made here prevented the idea of the Gov't favoring one religion and simply treating them all the same. In the case of Smith vs the Employment division, Smith was denied unemployment benefits because he used an illegal drug to practice his culture which got him fired. Similar to the case with Reynolds, the decision made here showed that the Gov't won't allow any one religion to break the law so that people will be allowed to practice their religion.
Clearly all of the decisions made in the cases above helped created a stable and peaceful society in which all religions are equal as well as an impartial Gov't.
I agree with Ibrahim that the government does a good job on seperating religion and government to a good extend.
For example in Vitale vs Engel the government prayer said "God" which showed that the government was endorsing a certain type of religion. Thus the decision made was that the Government could not favor one religion but had to treat all religion equal.
I agree with you on that. But in addition, the case depicted a scenario that involved an established religion because "God" is referred to as singular which infers that a public school endorses monotheistic religion. Some kids in school might believe in more than one "God", in "Godess(es)" or no "God" at all etc. The word "God" Therefore the prayer favors religions such as Christian/Jewish/Muslim faith who all believe in one God (masculine)
As much as it needs improvement, the US government does do a fair job of separating church and state. I agree with Chrystal that different people will feel that the boundaries between church and state have not been drawn correctly in certain circumstances. However, the government has an enormously difficult task on its hands. The American government was created partially in response to religious oppression, and the US has tried to maintain the founding fathers' original mission to create a government that does not involve itself in religion whatsoever. However, the government's duty is to protect and care for the welfare of it's citizens. If doing this involves regulating something that affects religion, should the government neglect its duty? This could mean providing funding for school transportation (both public and religious), like in the Everson case. But what about cases that interfered more directly with religion, such as the Reynolds case? This case especially, dealing with the legality of polygamy, dredges up difficult questions, not only about religion and government but also about how "big" government should be.
I agree with this. America has been deliberating over the size of its government since the Constitution was written. Raye has a good point; religious freedom is one of the main points of contention that has kept the issue of big v small government from being resolved. The government does have a huge task on its hands.
In my opinion, religion and government should be separated. In Reynolds v. US, Reynolds was found guilty of polygamy which is against the law. In this case, the Supreme Court made a verdict, that although citizens are protecting under the free exercise clause; Reynolds’ religious practices violated the law. The Supreme Court defined that the law was more superior.
In Allegheny v. ACLU, the menorah and the crèche did not promote a specific holiday yet they were still permitted. The verdict protects free exercise clause by allowing the government building to display the decorations which also protects the establishment clause.
In Everson vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional for the New Jersey government to allow for children going to religious or non-religious schools through public transportation. Since the government was not giving any money to schools directly and only providing finance for transportation, it did not violate the establishment clause.
These three cases show that the Supreme Court has the power to deal with religion and government separately.
It would be impossible for the government to reach a balance between church and state that would leave everyone involved happy. Everyone is going to have their opinions on where the lines should be drawn, which are usually in direct correlation to whether or not they're religious or not. But from what I've seen, they try to adhere to the clauses under the first amendment well enough. it's the free exercise and establishment clauses that cause the most controversy but at the end of the day keep the tables even.
In cases like everson v, the board of ed., there was controversy around the government paying for something for a parochial school. but since the government has the responsibility to maintain a neutral relationships with religions, and not prefer one over the other, in situations like this where the government is not aiding directly religious things, they can help.
In thomas v. indiana, a departmen transfer at work caused a man to quit because of the work clashing with his religious beliefs. he filed for unemployment, and was declined. but the supreme court found this a violation of the free exercise clause, giving everyone the same advantages.
In allegheny v. ACLU, the supreme court found the displaying of religious holiday symbols as advocating for a particular holiday, and god knows the government can't play favorites !
I agree with Carla that a person's perspective on the separation depends on how religious they themselves are, leading to difficult decision making. Also that the clauses in the first amendment cause the majority of the controversy, however the government has done a decent job of respecting the rights of the people and keeping a balance between the separation religion and state.
While there wasn’t always a clear separation between religion and the government, I agree with Sami that the Supreme Court does a good job in trying to create a separation between religion and the government.
In the case of Reynolds v. U.S, Reynolds was found guilty for breaking an existing law regardless of his religion. Even if ones religion calls for polygamy it is still unconstitutional and if Reynolds was allowed to break the law then everyone would be allowed t o break the law. In the case of Allegheny, the Christmas tree and menorah were allowed to stay because they didn’t really depict a religious scene like the crèche and were associated with the holiday season. In the case of Engel v. Vitale, the court found that a small optional prayer in the beginning of the school day was unconstitutional because even if was optional it was still praying to one god and if the government allowed it, it would be favoring one religion which would be unconstitutional.
I also agree with Charlotte that the separation between religion and government is not perfect and it may not ever be but the government is continually trying to create a clear separation between religion and government as seen through the three cases above.
The United States government has somewhat of a separation of religion and state, however it isn't, nor will it ever be perfect. Although the government is clearly obligated to protect the rights of the people, conflicting actions often make this difficult to decide.
For example, in the Supreme court case of Reynolds vs the US the legality of polygamy conflicted with the right to believe in whatever you choose. Similarly to the allegheny v. ACLU case, in which the government was accused of favoring certain religions over another, when they claimed to be supporting a holiday, not a religion. Lastly, in the Engel vs Vitale case, the government was forced to come between religion and state, when students were ecouraged to recite a short "prayer" in the beggining of the school day which included the word g-d, causing the government to have to decide between the rights of the school, and the rights of the students regarding religion.
It is often seen in Supreme Court history that religion has conflicted with state, causing the SC to decide whether the actions are breaking the law of the constitution, or hindering a person of their rights, because although a separation has been established in the United States, it will always end up conflicting in certain situations.
I agree with many of you when you say that separation of church and state will never be fully accomplished but the government does its best it can to maintain a balance. The thing is I don’t think that it should either. The constitution calls for free exercise of religion and no established religion, but that doesn’t mean the government can’t get involved when necessary. Many times the two clauses: establishment and free exercise- go hand in hand with each other. The obstacle comes when the two clauses mentioned in the First Amendment contradict with one another or with the law of the nation and/or state. The Supreme Court is the one to decide how to interpret both of these clauses and set the limits or extents on each one. The government has a challenging job handling this issue because it involves securing freedom while keeping in accordance with the law. And what’s more is that religion is a part of many people’s lives so it is hard to say neutral, regulate, secure, evaluate etc. It seems like a great balancing act, so although improvement is needed, there is actually thought into the decisions of the cases. Plus there is pressure to favor a religion- I’m sure because Supreme Court justices are people too and have their biases.
In the case Reynolds v United States, we see how a Mormons are restricted from free exercise of their religion through being prohibiting the practice of polygamy. The key idea here is that the court didn’t say hmmm…we know Mormons practice polygamy and we don’t like Mormons so let’s bother them. Polygamy is not allowed to be practiced by anyone. And just how human sacrifice is part of a person’s religion and they still can’t kill people, Mormons are not excused through religion. So although it seems like a threat to freedom it really isn’t.
In the case of Vitale v Engel the school prayer is shown to be an establishment since there is a mention of God in a public school. In this case the government protects the students’ first amendment by taking away the prayer thus taking away the establishment of religion, undoing the violation.
In the Allegheny case, the Supreme Court allowed the Christmas tree and menorah to continue as a display since it now became a universal symbol but took away the crèche. It was a government building so the crèche was too religious, but the tree and menorah are used to welcome the season. Although the tree and menorah both have religious origins these symbols represent other things too.
I agree that the government definitely needs improvement in this area, but at the same time the government for the most part keeps the people’s freedom of religion in mind when deciding on these court cases. And when it does limit someone’s freedom like Reynolds they can at least justify it with supporting details. (Although I don’t know what’s so wrong with having so many wives if that whole family is okay with it. In Reynolds case, his first wife was asked to testify but she fled and didn’t show up.
I think religion and state are separated to a great extent, however, like Jillian said, it will never be perfect. I believe that past cases set the standards well, putting the Constitution first before anything, which brought the nation to our current decent situation. For example, in the Reynolds v. US case, the Supreme Court did not let Reynolds off the hook for practicing polygamy since it is against the law. It did not take away his rights, but free exercise of religion was definitely differentiated from religious action. Also, in the Allegheny v. ACLU case, the Supreme Court expressed that not all religious celebrations on government property violate the establishment clause. However, if it is in a certain setting portraying a message that may force religion onto others, it will be breaking the first amendment. In the Engel v. Vitale case, the Supreme Court ruled against prayer being recited in public schools since it may force certain religions as being the highest in the nation. This was significant because there are people of various religions in the United States including individuals who believe in many gods, opposed to one "God", which was stated within the prayer. As a result, cases as such as these three left our society now with free exercise of religion with protection from religious preference from the government as well as limitation to religious action as it could break the law.
I believe that religion is as separated from government as it could possibly be in a successful government. It would be nearly impossible to completely separate the two, as they go hand in hand and religion could not go completely unregulated by the government. I think the United States does a really good job of making this separation. We don't have an established religion and we don't formally endorse or bash any particular religion--so in that sense we keep the separation. But the government needs to be able to step in and make sure that no laws are being broken, and to do this, they must have some part in governing when it comes to religion. There is no discrimination against people of a certain religion, nor is there any laws against any specific religions; all religions have to follow the same regulations and those who practice them are subject to the same punishment as any other citizen. In the case of Reynolds v. U.S, Reynolds was found guilty for breaking the law not because he believed in certain things, but because he did something that was illegal. We can see in this case that religion needs to be regulated by the government because if he were to be let off the hook, then everyone else who believed in certain things would be too. In the case of the Employment Division v. Smith, the Supreme Court decided that laws, and the Constitution especially are usually going to be superior to religion. In the Engel v. Vitale case, the Supreme Court ruled against prayer being recited in public schools because of the fact that religion and the state should be held separately; allowing one religion to recite a specific prayer ultimately shows support for that religion. In all of these cases, the government took necessary action to make sure that religion was separated from the state. The government needs this authority in order to place restrictions on religions activities.
I think religion and government do keep that separate boundary line. They don't have any serious problems really ever. It's not like in the old days when the King or Queen demanded you bide by the religion and go to church every Sunday. In these days you can have freedom of religion and the government does not get involved.
Although they but heads if it interferes with the law but that is normal you can't trump something that was there before the religion. And you cant do something illegal in religion .
Religion is not properly separated from State, however I think religion and state are separated as best as they can be. It is impossible to have a perfect division because some laws impede certain religious practices and vice versa. For example, in the case Reynolds v. Everson, Everson’s claim was far-fetched, but technically correct. The government isn’t supposed to be involved with any religiously affiliated organization, but if the government had denied religious schools free transportation, that would have been unconstitutional too because they would be favoring a certain religion (or lack thereof). In Smith v. Employment Division of Oregon, the Supreme Court issued that the law rules over religious practices. All people must follow the law. The law cannot be bent for religious reasons. In Allegheny v. ACLU, the Supreme Court ruled that holiday symbols cannot be displayed because they would imply a preferred religion. The government tries very hard to keep Church and State as separate as possible, and as many have said, even though it is far from perfect, the government is doing very well.
Everson v. Board of Education* excuse the typo, please!
I strongly agree with you, when you say "if the government had denied religious schools free transportation, that would have been unconstitutional too because they would be favoring a certain religion (or lack thereof)." That is what came to mind when the group presented that case.
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