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The Separation of Church and State
Transcript of The Separation of Church and State
Where do you find the phrase "The Separation of Church and State" used?
In the Constitution? The Articles? The Bill of Rights?
Maybe in the Declaration of Independence? Where does it come from? Contrary to popular belief, you will not find the phrase in any legal documents.
Originally used by Thomas Jefferson in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, where he called it "a wall of separation between church and State." What does it mean?
The phrase"Separation of Church and State" refers to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. "
In other words, the government should not fund religion, impose it at the state level as compulsory, or limits the people's freedom to practice it. Nor could the State impose it's ideology upon the churches. How does it apply to schools? The same laws that the government must follow also hold true for public schools.
No public school may provide religious instruction, nor lead in any religious activity, like prayer.
However, there have been cases in which state or local school districts have opted to have religious education in public schools by public vote. History of Separation of Church and State McCollum v. Board of Education Dist. (1948)
Court finds religious instruction in public schools a violation of the establishment clause and therefore unconstitutional
Torcaso v. Watkins,(1961)Court holds that the state of Maryland cannot require applicants for public office to swear that they believed in the existence of God. The court unanimously rules that a religious test violates the Establishment Clause.
Engel v. Vitale (1962)
Any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion.
Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)Court finds Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional and Murray v. Curlett, (1963) - Court finds forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer unconstitutional.
Stone v. Graham (1980)
Court finds posting of the Ten Commandments in schools unconstitutional.
Edwards v. Aquillard (1987)Unconstitutional for state to require teaching of "creation science" in all instances in which evolution is taught. Statute had a clear religious motivation. For Example...
OK: Teaching about the Bible, the Torah, or other sacred texts and their influence on human behavior
Wrong: Teaching sacred documents with devotion or as singular truth.
OK: Allowing a school-sponsored Gospel Choir that performs praise songs.
Wrong: Forbidding students or staff to pray between classes or penalizing them for being absent for religious holidays. Contrary to some popular criticism, religion has not been driven out of the schools. As long as a student is not disrupting the normal flow of the school, he or she can say a prayer as desired. Also, in general, students should be allowed time away (briefly during the school day or for a single day or more) to comply with religious tenets.
OK: Allowing a student to wear a T-shirt, wrist band, or neckwear expressing religious belief.
Wrong: Forbidding such items or giving special treatment to believers. Sources http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Public-education/The-law-and-its-influence-on-public-school-districts-An-overview/Religion-and-Public-Schools.html