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Separation of Church and State with a Charoset Passover Recipe
Cathedral Church of the Nativity
Church and State Separate?
The federal, and even state government, should not have any function at all when it comes to religion, due to the separation of church and state. Likewise, religion should not be a part of any governmental body. There are more arguments in support of this position then there are arguments against it. The arguments supporting the fact that the government should not interfere in religious affairs start with the Scopes Trial of 1925. Another argument supporting the fact that government should stay out of religious affairs is the fact that the Constitution makes no mention of God, Christianity or any religion for that matter, other than to constrain religious participation in federal government by saying that no religious test shall be required to hold a federal office. The First Amendment also specifically says that the federal government should not interfere in any religious matters. "Religious disestablishment created a more conducive environment for what many in the Founding generation valued most of all: the free exercise of religion" (Ivers, 2013). One of the counter arguments to this is that; "there is no convincing secular-liberal argument for religious liberty, in the sense of unique accommodation of religious beliefs and practices specifically because they are religious" (Paulson, 2014). There is also an issue with separation of church and state laws, as there are some states that have wished to put religion back into the educational institutions.
The real big start of people questioning the government's role in religion was the trial of John Scopes. The Scopes Trial of 1925 was a big deal where John T. Scopes was put on trial for teaching the Theory of Evolution in the school that he taught in. The reason he was put on trial was because the Theory of Evolution directly conflicted with the religious teachings of Christianity and the Bible, and there was a "state law that prohibited teaching evolution in the public schools" (Ivers, 2013). Scopes was found guilty and fined $100.00, partly because of his lawyer relentlessly and ridiculously questioning a self proclaimed expert on religion. Even though Scopes was found guilty "the combustible mix of issues involved in his case—religious establishment, free speech, and religious free exercise—would soon find a permanent place on the docket of the United States Supreme Court" (Ivers, 2013), due to the fact that church and state are supposed to remain separate entities. It was unconstitutional that he was found guilty because the Constitution makes no "mention of God, Christianity, or anything else even remotely connected with any one church or particular religion. The only references the Constitution makes to religion actually constrain government power to act on behalf of or against religion" (Ivers, 2013).
Another argument for the separation of church and state would be the fact that the Constitution states that numerous federal employees will have to take an oath but will never have to take a religious test. The exact wording is stated in Article VI of the United States Constitution and specifically says; "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States" (The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 2014). This shows that the framers of America wanted and meant for church to be a separate entity from the federal government, at least when it came to choosing and swearing in federal employees. Beyond this statement of Article VI of the Constitution, there is really no other mention of religion through the rest of the Constitution until you get to the amendments. Even then religion is only mentioned once more.
The First Amendment has quite bit to do with Americans rights to certain freedoms like the freedom of speech, press, assembly and the freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Another freedom that the First Amendment guarantees is the freedom of religion by stating that; "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 2014). This means that each individual American has a right to chose whatever God they want to believe in, or do not believe in, and that they have a right to have their religion respected just like every recognized religion should be. This also means that Americans have a right to refuse to do certain things if they go against their religious beliefs, for example saying the "One Nation, under God" part of the 'Pledge of Allegiance'. This particular issue with the 'Pledge of Allegiance' has been solved in numerous ways. Over the years children used to say the Pledge every day before starting school, but this has gradually phased out. American immigrants and non-Christians began to complain about this so schools began altering rules for the 'Pledge of Allegiance'. These altered rules began with students being allowed to just sit out and not say the Pledge at all. These rules have progressed over time and now most schools have removed the Pledge from their morning rituals altogether. The schools that have not removed the Pledge normally say a different version of the Pledge which omits the "One Nation, under God" part of it. Even the current President of the United States of America, Barrack Obama, refuses to say the God part of the Pledge, showing that church and state should truly be separate entities. Even though The Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution state that church and state should be separated, and most states agree, there are still some counter arguments this, even though they are few, far between and weak at best.
One of the biggest arguments against the fact that church and state should be separate is the fact that there are no convincing, non-religious, liberal arguments in favor of religious liberties where the debater is not a religious individual. This means that every time there is an argument made in favor of separation of church and state it could be considered a biased argument. The reason that this is a weak argument is because it is not necessarily a true statement. Just because someone is religious and thinks that church and state should remain separate does not mean that they could not come up with a valid and non biased argument as to why they feel that way. Another sort of counter argument, which is less of an argument and more like a defiance, to the separation of church and state is the difference between the state and federal regulations.
Federal regulations for the separation of church and state, adhere as closely as possible to the Constitution as they can, because the federal government has to govern all of the states in the union as a whole. State regulations have a tendency to veer, not so much from the Constitution but from federal government rules that they feel are not good for their citizens. On the occasion this causes states to come up with questionable regulations that could be considered unconstitutional. Recently a school in South Carolina determined to put prayer back into schools. The state Representative Wendell Gillard introduced a bill "that would require teachers to initiate prayer every morning" (Boston, 2014). This has been viewed as unconstitutional due to the fact that church and state are supposed to be separate and schools are run by the government. The arguments for the separation of church and state are clearly much stronger than the arguments against it.
The federal, and even state government, should not have any function at all when it comes to religion, due to the separation of church and state. The arguments in favor of the law follow the Constitution as closely as they can just like they are supposed to. The arguments against the separation of church and state are few and if they are not fully unconstitutional they are quite borderline. The framers of the Constitution did not want the federal government to be a part of religion for very good reason, the main reason being that they wanted the American people to have a right to believe in whatever they wanted, even if they wanted to believe that there was nothing and we just popped into existence.
Boston, R. (2014). States of confusion: across the country, legislators are proposing bills that would violate separation of church and state. Church & State, (2), 4.
Ivers, G. (2013). Constitutional law: An introduction. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Paulsen, M. (2014). Is religious freedom irrational?. Michigan Law Review, 112(6), 1043-1069.
The US National Archives and Records Administration. (2014). Bill of rights. Retrieved from
The US National Archives and Records Administration. (2014). Constitution of the united states. Retrieved from
10 Minute Lecture
JFK on Church and State
- 6 cups Granny Smith Apples, Peeled, cored and grated
- 2 Lemons, Juiced
- 1 cup Walnuts, Roughly chopped
- 1 cup Golden Raisins
- 1/2 cup Honey
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/4 cup Sweet Red Wine, Kosher
- In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients. Serve.
Should Church and State Be Separate?
Should church and state be separate?
© 2014 Kelly Miller