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Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Religion 1 st Amendment 1.Establishment Clause 2.Free Exercise Clause.

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Presentation on theme: "Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Religion 1 st Amendment 1.Establishment Clause 2.Free Exercise Clause."— Presentation transcript:

1 Freedom of Religion

2 Freedom of Religion 1 st Amendment 1.Establishment Clause 2.Free Exercise Clause

3 Freedom of Religion ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion. EXERCISE CLAUSE Prohibits government from unduly interfering with the free exercise of religion.

4 The Establishment Clause

5 Establishment Clause “Wall of Separation” No tax support to one particular form of religion. However …

6 Religion is, and always has been, a part of public life in the U.S.

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9 Examples of Religion in Public Life Oaths of office in the name of God Money has “In God We Trust” Pledge of Allegiance has “under God” Congress opens daily sessions with prayer. Chaplains in the military paid by the government. Tax-exempt status for church property Tax-exemption for contributions to religious groups

10 Controversy about religion in public life Can taxes pay for busing students to a parochial school? Yes: Everson v. Board of Education (1947) Can taxes pay for busing parochial students on a field trip? No: Wolman v. Walter (1977) Can taxes pay for textbooks for parochial schools? Yes (for secular books): Board of Education v. Allen (1968)

11 Controversy about religion in public life Can parents deduct tuition, textbooks and transportation to and from parochial schools from state income taxes? Yes: Mueller v. Allen (1983) Can the state use taxes to provide computers, library books, and other equipment to parochial schools? Yes, as long as not used for religious purposes: Mitchell v. Helms (2000)

12 Controversy about religion in public life Can public schools release students to attend classes in religious instruction? No if religion teachers come to public school campus. McCollum v. Board of Education (1948) Yes if students leave and go to another location for religious instruction. Zorach v. Clauson (1952)

13 The Supreme Court declared that aid to church-related schools must do the following: 1.Have a secular legislative purpose 2.Have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion 3.Not foster an excessive government “entanglement” with religion Controversy about religion in public life

14 Recent Developments in Texas Trying to develop a state approved curriculum for teaching The Bible (Literature? History? Culture?) History of Religion (Perspective?) Comparative Religions (Who teaches? What perspective? Emphasis?) Controversy about religion in public life

15 School prayer issues Government cannot dictate a prayer to be used. No “moment of prayer.” No clergy-led prayers. No prayers at beginning of football games, even if led by students.

16 Controversy about religion in public life No school sponsored Bible reading. No use of Lord’s Prayer in school. Students can form prayer groups not organized or led by faculty.

17 Under what circumstances do you think this “tolerance” of religion in school (prayer groups, etc.) would come to an end? Controversy about religion in public life

18 Under what circumstances do you think this “tolerance” of religion in school (prayer groups, etc.) would come to an end? Discrimination against minority religions Controversy about religion in public life

19 Ban on prayer in government does not extend to government meetings (legislatures, city councils, etc.) Theory: Adults are not susceptible to religious indoctrination like children.

20 At what point might this involvement of religion in public life come to an end? Under what circumstances? Controversy about religion in public life

21 At what point might this involvement of religion in public life come to an end? Under what circumstances? Inclusion of minority religions Controversy about religion in public life

22 Evolution versus Creationism States cannot ban teaching evolution. Epperson v. Arkansas (1968) States cannot require teaching creationism along with evolution. Edwards v. Aguillard (1987)

23 More recent tactic by fundamentalist Christians: However, lower federal courts have ruled that this tactic is merely a “disguised” effort to promote religion in the classroom and is unacceptable. Controversy about religion in public life

24 Can government property have Christmas displays or decorations?

25 Controversy about religion in public life Can government property have Christmas displays or decorations? Confusing court rulings:

26 Controversy about religion in public life Can government property have Christmas displays or decorations? Confusing court rulings: Yes, if secular items are included (reindeer, sleigh, etc.).

27 Controversy about religion in public life Can government property have Christmas displays or decorations? Confusing court rulings: Yes, if secular items are included (reindeer, sleigh, etc.). No, if nativity scene alone.

28 Controversy about religion in public life Can government property have Christmas displays or decorations? Confusing court rulings: Yes, if secular items are included (reindeer, sleigh, etc.). No, if nativity scene alone. Yes, if other religions are included in holiday display. Issue: Minority religions

29 Free Exercise Clause

30 Controversy about the Free Exercise Clause The Supreme Court has made a clear distinction between “religious belief” and “religious practice.”

31 Controversy about the Free Exercise Clause The right to “religious belief” is absolute. You can believe anything you want to believe. However, the actual practice of your religion can be limited or restricted. Some religious practices are forbidden.

32 What are some religious practices that might be forbidden? Controversy about the Free Exercise Clause

33 When can government restrict “free exercise” of religion? When the “practice” violates laws protecting: –Health –Safety –Morals of the community Reynolds v. United States (1879)

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37 Mr. Merced was planning to sacrifice up to 7 goats, chickens, and 5-10 doves during a Santeria religious ceremony to be attended by about 10 members of his religion. Merced said that the remains of the animals are placed in a dumpster. The City of Euless said that city ordinances prohibited the ceremony because of the public health concerns about disposal of animal parts resulting from the ceremony.

38 On March 11, 2008, a U.S. District Court ruled against Merced saying that he did not need to use his house to practice his religion and that the city was protecting the public’s health with its laws against animal cruelty. Judge John McBryde said “He could go outside the city and do the things he does inside his house.”

39 Controversy about the Free Exercise Clause The Supreme Court has allowed government prohibitions on: –Polygamy (case involved Mormons) –Drugs in religious ceremonies

40 Controversy about the Free Exercise Clause The Supreme Court has allowed requirements for school children to be vaccinated even though it violates the beliefs of some religious groups. (Jehovah’s Witnesses & Christian Scientists)

41 Controversy about the Free Exercise Clause Flag Salute Cases Many states require pledges of allegiance in school. Some churches consider such pledges as “bowing down to graven images.” The Supreme Court has flip-flopped, but more recently has said that patriotism could be achieved without forcing people to violate their religious beliefs.


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