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Church And State Essay

917 words - 4 pages

It is unconstitutional for local state or federal governments to favor one religion over another? Government can show favoritism toward religion by displaying religious symbols in public places at taxpayer expense, by sponsoring events like Christmas concerts, caroling, or by supporting the teaching of religious ideas. It appears the United States government has had a history of favoring Christianity.The United States government's favoritism of Christianity is a clear violation of the First Amendment. This amendment states that "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."There have been several court cases on this and related issues which include Lee vs. Weisman, Everson vs. the Board of Education, and Lynch vs. Donnelly.In Lee vs. Weisman, the Court held that prayers at any official public school graduation ceremonies violate the Establishment Clause. Even the content of the prayer was known beforehand it was a member of the clergy that delivered the prayer. However, the Court held the prayers were unconstitutional because student would be a "captive audience" since they would be compelled to attend their graduation and they would be under pressure to participate in the prayer or to conform because of the content of the prayer. Also, any graduation ceremony is a school sponsored event, any prayer led by a student and/or member of the clergy would be considered sanctioned so it would be considered unconstitutional. It is understandable that public school prayer discriminates against some religious views so it is prohibited in public schools and school sponsored events. Similarly, Christmas concerts play a role similar to the teaching of creationism and prayer. The Christmas concerts subconsciously influence students towards beliefs of Christianity. To be fair to non-Christian groups, converting "Christmas" to "Holiday" concerts would maintain the "separation of church and state."In 1947, in the Everson vs. Board of Education case, the Supreme Court ruled that the 14th amendment prevented the States and the Federal government from setting up a church, passing laws that favor religion, or using tax money to suport any religion.Lynch vs. Donnelly came from Rhode Island in 1980. In this case, the city official included a nativity scene in the city's annual Christmas display that included all traditional Christmas symbols. That is how the term"Reindeer Rule" came into effect. This terms applies to the any religious displays must have one equal secular display, such as reindeer with manger. Local, state and federal governments attempt to get around Court rulings set forth in the Everson and Lynch cases by decorating the streets in town with non-religious symbols such as lights, trees, wreaths and other objects that symbols the season. However, religious entities think the season itself has religious...

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