Throughout history the world has had a constant struggle how much faith is allowed into the public square and the role it plays in government. To some faith and government must be totally separated, to have it partly intertwined with government, and completely integrated with government. Faith plays a part of our lives and in times of crisis it can shape how we response to that crisis. I will look at the three different aspects dealing with this issue and explain which one is the best.
The first theory in regards to faith and politics is that it must be separated from politics. Subscribers of this theory base it on previous case law and pieces of letters and treaties that the US has signed. They believe that the US or any nation should not force people into a religion nor give state support to that religion. The most quote letter is Thomas Jefferson letter to the Baptists of Danbury Connecticut saying that a wall of separation had appeared between church and state (Drachman et al 34). On November 4, 1796, the United States signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the Barbary pirates, in Article 11 it states the US was not founded as a Christian religion (Avalon). That article has been used by many non-religious groups to base their views on. Today, there are groups such as the Freedom from Religion, the Humanist Society, and the American Civil Liberties Union have fought any type of religious faith in the public square.
In recent history the Vinson, Warren, Burger, Rehnquist, and Roberts Courts have handed down several decision that have limited religion in the public square. Those courts have had a landmark case regarding faith, Vinson had Everson, Warren had Engel and Abington, Burger had Lemon, Rehnquist had Santa Fé, and Roberts had Borden (Drachman et al 31-40). In 1948, the Emerson handed down Everson v. Board of Education, which created the wall of separation that Jefferson had spoken of in his letter to the Baptist of Danbury Connecticut. In 1962, the Supreme Court gave us the Engel v. Vitale which said that school prayer was unconstitutional which also struck down a New York law requiring a daily prayer before classes started, and in 1963 Abington Township School District v. Schemp ruled that school sanctioned scripture reading was unconstitutional as well (Drachman et al. 34). These decisions have been used as a base for any type of case against religion in the public square. Currently, every time at Christmas and at commencement ceremonies every year.
In many regards people who subscribe to this theory have so arguments to be made. Since the nation is a melting pot, it would be better that the government is not supporting one religion over another. Second, we would not want to repeat what had happened in England during the 17th Century, when the King of England forced all the citizens to attend the Church of England. Third, we have the First Amendment to the Constitution which says that the Congress shall make no laws...