First Amendment: Freedom of Religion The First Amendment states that: “Congress shall make no law 1. respecting an establishment of religion, 2. or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” We will look at each of these clauses of the First Amendment, the controversy and power struggles surrounding them and the way the Courts have interpreted and applied them. Religious Liberty Prior to 1791 • Colonial Practices – Churches supported with taxes – Voting rights tied to church membership – Required to go to church on Sunday • Declaration of Independence included a provision for religious freedom • Constitution: Article IV states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” • Many believed, however, there was not enough protection for religious freedom Drafting the First Amendment • They asked, “Should we establish a religion or not?” • Thomas Jefferson wrote that there should be “a wall of separation between church and state.” The Establishment Clause • The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment guarantees that the government will not create and/or support an official state religion. • Forbids the government from creating an official church • Forbids the government from supporting one religion over another • Forbids the government from supporting religion over non-religion Separationists vs. Accomodationists How high should the wall between church and state be? Separationists argue that a high “wall” should exist between the church and state. Accomodationists contend that the state should not be separate from religion but rather should accommodate it, without showing preference. Lemon v. Kurtzman • In 1971, the Court ruled that New • In 1980, this Lemon York state could not use state funds to pay parochial school Test was used to teachers’ salaries. invalidate a • To be Constitutional the Kentucky law that challenged law must required the posting 1. Have a secular purpose of the Ten 2. Neither advance nor inhibit Commandments in religion public school 3. Not foster excessive government classrooms. entanglement with religion. The Free Exercise Clause • "Congress shall make no law.....prohibiting the free exercise thereof (religion)" is designed to prevent the government from interfering with the practice of religion. • This freedom is not absolute. (Belief is protected; action can be regulated) • Several religious practices have been ruled unconstitutional including: – Denying medical treatment to a child – use of illegal drugs – Polygamy • Nonetheless, the Court has made it clear that the government must remain NEUTRAL toward religion.