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Separation Of Church And State Essay

1194 words - 5 pages

Separation of Church and StateReligion and education, in their connection, are both intimate and of long duration (Gaustad 83). Throughout the years, dating back as early as 1869, there have been several court cases and civil arguments concerning the separation of church and state. Arguments concerning prayer before class, religious studies taught in class, and even done to the theory of evolution have been many of the main concerns throughout the years.Edwin S. Gaustad's book Church and State in America, he presents several court cases in which they argue or resolve issues concerning the separation of church and state and religions role in the classroom. In the U.S. public schools, where the vast majority of the nation's young people are educated, control of religion in class tends to be more local rather than federal (Gaustad 83). Also, in those schools the constitutionally correct way of dealing with religion tends to be a major problem for all concerned: the pupils, the parents, the religious leaders, the school teachers and administrators, and the political leadership at all governmental levels. In the past when an imperial state controlled the church, it also controlled the educational system. Today in most European nations the relations between the church and educational systems are closely related, however in the United States the case is just the opposite (83).As early as 1869, parents were suing the public schools of Cincinnati, Ohio, in an effort to purge them of their Protestant religious exercises. A large part of the difficulty could be traced to that persistent Protestant flavor, in one section of the country or another, in the locally controlled public school system (Gaustad 84). Judge Alphonso Taft found these exercises clearly "Protestant worship" and it was offensive to the Catholics and Jews. After a short while, the Ohio Supreme Court sided with Taft's argument and ruled the exercises as illegal. However, the U.S. Supreme Court, along with the U.S. Congress only a century later, found itself wrestling with similar issues constantly (84).Following World War II, the public school cases reached the Supreme Court in large numbers. The four major categories that were being argued in court and in civil battles were: teaching of religion - whether it be on "shared time," "released time," or "dismissed time," the actual practice of religion, questioning religious topics, and the right of students to engage in religious practices in school buildings (Gaustad 85). In the 1940's the three major radicals were Justin Stanley Reed, Justice Felix Frankurter, and Justice Robert Jackson. These men strongly supported the separation of church and state with the common philosophy of "good fences make good neighbors" (86-87).The big issue concerning prayer in school was disputed by whether or not students who wished to begin class with a prayer should be stopped from doing so. Justice Potter Stewart argued that prayer was a "deeply entrenched and...

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