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separation of church and state

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The principle that government must maintain an attitude of neutrality toward religion. Many view separation of church and state as required by the First Amendment (see also First Amendment). The First Amendment not only allows citizens the freedom to practice any religion of their choice, but also prevents the government from officially recognizing or favoring any religion.

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notes for separation of church and state

The relationship between church and state has been extremely controversial since the first settlers arrived in America to escape religious persecution in Europe, and many cases involving the issue have reached the Supreme Court.

notes for separation of church and state

Interpretation of the principle has been ambiguous: for instance, the Supreme Court has recently upheld laws prohibiting prayer in the schools but has permitted the construction of Nativity scenes on government property. (See also established church (see also established church) and freedom of religion.)
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

HOMEWORK HELP

What is separation of church and state?

Separation of church and state is the idea that government should remain neutral toward all religions and not officially recognize or favor any one religion.

In the separation of church and state, church refers to religion in general, while state refers to the government.

In the United States, the First Amendment of the Constitution ensures freedom of religion. This means that the government cannot give special treatment to one religion at the expense of other religions. It also can’t unfairly punish one specific religion. Americans are free to practice any religion they want or to practice no religion at all.

The First Amendment also forbids the government from establishing a state religion in what is known as the Establishment Clause. Over the centuries, courts and scholars have interpreted the Establishment Clause to mean that the government should be entirely neutral in regards to religion and must maintain a separation of church and state.

In practice, this means that the government cannot establish a national religion. It also means that the government cannot force citizens to practice a specific religion nor force churches to perform acts that go against their religion. This is why, for example, an American Catholic church can refuse to perform a same-sex marriage even though American law recognizes same-sex marriage as legal.

And just as religion is free from the command of the government, the government is free from the command of religious groups. For example, the United States government does not have to follow any religious scripture or laws. The government is free to pass any law it wants, even if the law conflicts with a religious commandment.

Why is separation of church and state important?

In American politics, the idea of a metaphorical separation of religion and the government has been credited to the founder of the colony of Rhode Island, Roger Williams.

The idea of separation of church and state was popularized by Thomas Jefferson in a letter he wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. In the letter Jefferson said that when Americans accepted the Bill of Rights, they “built a wall of separation between the church and state.”

However, the term separation of church and state doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution. It became more popular when Justice Hugo Black quoted Jefferson in Everson v. Board of Education (1947) in the Supreme Court’s ruling that there should be a separation of church and state.

Did you know … ?

The legal understanding of separation of church and state does not forbid the government from expressing religious sentiments entirely. This is why God can be mentioned on American currency, why politicians can swear oaths on a religious text, and why Christmas Day, a Christian religious holiday, can be recognized as a federal holiday.

What are real-life examples of separation of church and state?

This picture shows a Christian church. According to separation of church and state, government and religion should remain independent of each other.

Source: https://www.boston.com/news/national-news-2/2020/07/10/ppp-loans-catholic-church

Many Americans are skeptical about whether there actually is separation of church and state.

What other words are related to separation of church and state?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

Separation of church and state is the idea that the government should ban religious practice.

How to use separation of church and state in a sentence

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