The separation of church and state and the first amendment
Submitted to states for approval on Friday, September 25, 1789 Adopted on Thursday, December 15, 1791 States that “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
It originally applied to the federal government only. The phrases “separation of church and state” and “religious liberty” do not appear in the Constitution. In 1947, it was applied to states in Everson v. Board of Education, which introduced the Establishment Clause.
Since its ratification, the First Amendment has been the source of much controversy. Recent controversies include Stewart v. Johnson County, florida’s amendment 8, and 2012 GOP candidates.
Ralph Stewart was denied the request to display his posters about the separation of church and state. However, the commissioners approved a Ten Commandments display. A lawsuit was filed by Americans United against Johnson County, and a favorable settlement was reached. But the courthouse still displays religiously affiliated posters. Do you think this leads to injustice?
In the 2012 presidential election, voters in Florida will vote on a new initiative called Amendment 8. Amendment 8 states: “neither the government nor any agent of the government may deny to any other individual... The benefits of any program, funding, or other support on the basis of religious identity or belief.”
Amendment 8 would require taxpayers’ money to go to the funding of private religious schools. This will lead to social injustice because taxpayers will be forced to pay for the funding of a religion that they may not believe in.
Many GOP candidates try to breach the wall of the separation of church and state. Rick Santorum stated that colleges were no longer an open community for people of faith. he declares that “i don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute”.
Rick Santorum recently suspended his campaign for presidency. Nonetheless, his fundamentalist beliefs pose a risk to America as a whole. If he were to be elected and destroy the separation of church and state, what would this mean to millions of Americans?
America was founded on the basis for freedom, as seen in the Bill of Rights. Nonetheless, the debate over religion still continues. i’m cautiously confident that the separation of church and state will still prevail.
Thus says John Fitzgerald Kennedy: “whatever ones religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution and all its parts - - including the First Amendment and the strict separation of church and state.”