Freedom of Religion - Currituck County Schools

Freedom of Religion
Establishment Clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion…”
The Lemon Test: Since 1971, the Supreme Court has used the following 3-part test to determine the
constitutionality of state aid to church schools and other laws concerning religion. In the case Lemon v.
Kurtzman, the Court state that to be constitutional, the law must:
1. Have a clear, secular non-religious purpose.
2. Not advance or inhibit any religion.
3. Avoid “excessive government entanglement with religion.
Using the Lemon test, decide if the following are constitutional. Use to explain Court’s decision:
A. Everson b. NJ BOE (1947): The state of NJ pays for busing students to all public and parochial schools.
B. Wolman v. Walter (1977): The state provides transportation for public and parochial school field trips.
C. Engle v. Vitale (1962): The NY Board of Regents composes a generic prayer and urges schools to use.
D. Abington v. Schempp (1963): The school district has school-sponsored Bible readings and recitation of
the Lord’s Prayer.
E. Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990): Students in a NE school district want to form a Bible
club that meets after school. Membership is voluntary and open to all religions.
F. Marsh v. Chambers (1983): Government organizations and legislatures open their meetings with a
Free Exercise Clause: “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The Neutrality Test:
Is the law to which the religious adherents object neutral and applicable to everyone?
If the law is not neutral or applicable to all, did the government have a compelling interest for enacting it?
Using the Neutrality test, decide if the following are constitutional. Use to explain Court’s
G. WV BOE v. Barnette (1943): The state of WV requires schools to make saluting the flag part of their
daily routine.
H. Bunn v. NC (1949): State law outlaws the use of venomous snakes in religious ceremonies.
I. Reynolds v. US (1878): Federal law prohibits the practice of polygamy.
J. Thorton v. Calder, Inc. (1985): A Connecticut law makes it illegal for any employer to fire an employee
who refuses to work on their “Sabbath Day.”