Seperation of Church and State | TeenInk

Seperation of Church and State

May 9, 2008
By Mark Haber, New City, NY

The constitution of the United States of America creates a separation between religion and the government. In numerous areas across the country areas are dominated by one religion. As a result these areas people want laws that are based around religion. Separation of church and state forbids governments from passing such laws.
Thought the history of this nation problems over the separation have erupted. One that is relatively present is the phrase “Under God” that is in our Pledge of Allegiance. This phrase was added to pledge to separate the US from the communist world that has no religion. A few years ago a man sued his state for forcing his children to say the pledge. The man’s claims were he was Atheist and forcing his daughter to say the pledge was forcing her to call her father a liar. He also said due to the freedom of speech and religion in the United States he had a right to believe what he wanted. He argued that forcing someone to say “Under God” was violating an atheist or any non monotheistic religion’s right to think and believe what they want. The Courts agreed that forcing one to say the pledge was a violation of the first amendment. After the courts decided the justice department formed a law prohibiting schools from forcing kids to say the pledge.
Another arguable point is whether religion is a defense of a crime. In other words is god told me to do it, or I was protecting some one from god, an excuse for a crime. This is a concept that dates back thousands of years. During the eleventh century various crusades or holy wars were waged to reclaim religious holy land. The ancient Greeks and Romans belied in a god of war who was appeased by conquest and war. The Muslims believe in a holy struggle for god. This shows that many people have a concept of violence or struggle within their believes. This bears the question can these believes be a justification for a crime. A few people have tried this as a defense and haven’t succeeded but it still shows that people who have a strong feeling towards a religion.
Religion involved in legal cases comes up in a few other times regarding prosecution rather than defense. One famous case was that of the state of Tennessee vs. John Scopes. This case talked about the foundation of the United States and what values are most important. John Scopes was a high school science teacher who taught Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and not that god created man. During the nineteen twenties teaching such a theory in Tennessee was forbidden and outlawed. Scopes was arrested for the use of this theory. Even though he was convicted of the crime Scopes continued to oppose the law. Eventually the law was overturned and teaching of evolution was allowed. This case proved that while in the twenties most Americans, especially in the South, Christian values were still part of people’s everyday lives, there was a little progress to a true freedom of religion and a separation of church and state.


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This article has 18 comments.


on Jan. 9 2014 at 12:03 pm
writinggurl SILVER, Easley, South Carolina
8 articles 0 photos 14 comments
Most if not all the founding fathers were christians and would not like how the govt. has turned out. Christians have if not all their rights taken away. Answer this is it right that I have to learn evolution if I am a christian.

on Jan. 9 2014 at 12:01 pm
writinggurl SILVER, Easley, South Carolina
8 articles 0 photos 14 comments
Yes may not agree with the pledge but remember People are fighting for your right not to say the pledge.  I personally think if you cannot say the pledge you should go live somewhere else in the world.

on Sep. 21 2013 at 2:14 pm
AnInkling SILVER, Castle Rock, Colorado
6 articles 0 photos 110 comments

Favorite Quote:
“This is your life. Is it everything you dreamed that it would be, when the world was younger and you had everything to lose?” Switchfoot
“Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Galatians 4:16

Where is separation of church and state in the Constitution?  I have done an extensive study of the Constitution, and I have not found it in there or in any of the Amendments. In fact, the origin of "separation of church and state" comes from a *letter* that Thomas Jefferson wrote to a Baptist church ensuring that the government would not interfere in the church, not the other way around. In fact, the Constitutional Convention started with several round of prayers to God by Catholics priests, Baptists and others.  Also the First Amendment ensures that we have the right to publicly practice any religion we want (so long as it does not threaten the nation or citizens), but says nothing about the government being separate from religion.  The church is separate from the government, but the government is not separate from the church. Here is what Congress said in 1854:"The great, vital, and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and the divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." "In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity... That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants."  

Minrissie said...
on Oct. 28 2011 at 9:02 am

While I won't argue about there being no reference to God in the Consitution (I'm not saying there isn't, I just don't know and am not going to go look for it right now), there are plenty of references to God in the Declaration of Independence, which is the "charter" document of this nation, and thus a very important one when discussing whether the US was founded on Christian principles. 

Aside from this, there are numerous quotes from Founding Fathers stating that our republic can only stand so long as the people look to God. "[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.  Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind." (Benjamin Rush, signer of the declaration). Gouverneur Morris, another signer, said "I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God." And John Jay (first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) said, "The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts."

(http://www.free2pray.info/5founderquotes.html

But even if God wasn't mentioned in the Founding documents, the ideas expressed are still found in judeo-christian principals. The Founders established the government in such a way as to protect the people from the government (limiting the government as they did, ensuring that it could never get too much power) because they believed that rights were given not by man, nor by the government, but by God, aninherently Judeo-Christian principle (all men are created by God, thus, God gives them their rights, not man). John Adams wrote in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God." 

The first ammendment was designed not to suggest that the founders had gotten nothing from religion, nor that they thought religion had no role in government, but to ensure that the government of the US did not make the same mistake as the governments of European countries (as well as others) had made in establishing a state religion (ex: England required it's people to be Anglican; for many years the French had to be Catholic) and thus overriding man's right to free will (another Christian concept).  

Wow, that was longer than I meant it to be...


Lilliterra said...
on Jun. 30 2011 at 12:47 am

You have to try looking at this from the other side of the spectrum, too. What if a parent sued because their kid was forced to write a report stating that molecules evolved into men over a period of billions of years? That definately involved a violation of their beleifs... I think what we see is atheism being defended but not Christianit.y.

And interesting that you should bring up the scopes trial. It used to be illegal to teach Evolution; now it is illegal to teach Creation! Or even both simultaneously!

In fact a teacher can lose their job for even suggesting that Intellegent Design is a possibility. Which is a flagrant violation of the standard of secularity they claim to be striving for. Here's why: Intellegent Design is an important tenet of every religion except for Athe.ism. If they are not allowing discussion of Intellegent Design into the classroom, than they are favoring Athe.ism over other religions, and that is a violation of the establishment clause.


Lilliterra said...
on Jun. 30 2011 at 12:38 am
Are you absolutely sure they're actually MAKING you say anything?

on Jun. 8 2011 at 8:05 am
SATAN4LIFE BRONZE, Waterboro, Maine
1 article 0 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"FRIDAY, FRIDAY, GOTTA GET DOWN ON FRIDAY" - Rebecca Black

Please stop pretending you know anything about the founding fathers. Their plan for the country was that it would be a secularist country, not a religious one.

TheJust ELITE said...
on Apr. 15 2011 at 6:59 am
TheJust ELITE, Ellenton, Florida
254 articles 202 photos 945 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I feel that a hero is somebody who will stand up for their values and what they believe in and that can take any form. People that have values and have thought them through rather than those who just do what they’re told."-Skandar Keynes

"When it’

"The Surpreme Judge of the world"...do you think they're referencing King George there? If you actually research the Constitution, you'll relaize they mention God throughout. They may not name Him by name, but that was because it was a respect issue, not a religious issue.

And fyi, the original pledge didn't even make mention to the specific flag. Just A flag.


on Apr. 14 2011 at 8:54 pm
teacat749 BRONZE, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
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Favorite Quote:
We do not quit playing because we grow old. We grow old because we quit playing.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

I agree with Persona.

on Jan. 27 2011 at 11:12 am
redpanda26 SILVER, Chevy Chase, Maryland
5 articles 5 photos 51 comments
Me too, but I just didn't say it and I wasn't the only one.

Persona BRONZE said...
on Aug. 27 2010 at 12:17 am
Persona BRONZE, Hanford, California
4 articles 0 photos 60 comments
"In God We Trust" and "One Nation Under God" were BOTH added as our nation's motto and to our pledge(respectively), in 1954 during the Red Scare. "In God We Trust" was no more the nation's motto than the other motto still printed on our coinage. "E Pluribus Unum" which means, "Out of Many, One". The original pledge had no reference to god, NOR does the Constitution. I find it very curious that you believe the Founders wished to base the government on god, yet did not mention him a single time in the Constitution, the basis of our government.

LissaBee said...
on Aug. 24 2010 at 7:22 pm

Actually, this "wall between church and state" is nowhere to be found in the Constitution.  It's in a letter from Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. The Constitution says that:

"Congress...shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."-Amendment 1

and

"[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." - Article 6


on Jul. 30 2010 at 4:05 pm
fibonaccimathgenius BRONZE, Birmingham, Michigan
4 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'm going to bed before you two come up with a worse idea to get us killed -- or worse, expelled." -- Hermione Granger, HP #1 <3 :]

I didn't know there was the law passed forbidding schools to make the kids say the pledge.  I am forced to say the pledge everyday and I am an atheist!  hmmmmm

on May. 30 2010 at 5:15 pm
ReflectionsofYou GOLD, Mason, Tennessee
10 articles 0 photos 107 comments

I think seperation of church and state is taken out of context way too often. If our founding fathers didn't want us to recognize God, they wouldn't have made him such a big deal. They wouldn't have left England to presue[sp?] religous freedom in the first place. That's the whole reason we're here.....

 Regardless, it is an interesting topic, and probably a difficult one to write about.


brie13 GOLD said...
on May. 8 2010 at 12:25 pm
brie13 GOLD, Sparks, Nevada
11 articles 0 photos 44 comments

Favorite Quote:
What is the meaning of life? -- To live ( Mr.Swigart- Bio Teacher)

i agree with zadarox101. as i was reading the article i was very confused on whether you were saying that speration of church and state was a good thing or not. since your artice was placed under point of view you should have made that more clear but other then that it was well written.  

TheJust ELITE said...
on Mar. 25 2010 at 4:05 pm
TheJust ELITE, Ellenton, Florida
254 articles 202 photos 945 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I feel that a hero is somebody who will stand up for their values and what they believe in and that can take any form. People that have values and have thought them through rather than those who just do what they’re told."-Skandar Keynes

"When it’

Plus, our country was founded on God. It shouldn't matter what you (people in general) believe personally, you should at least care enough about the history of our country to respect the fact that it was based on God. That point being, "In God we trust" and "One nation under God"!

TheJust ELITE said...
on Mar. 25 2010 at 4:03 pm
TheJust ELITE, Ellenton, Florida
254 articles 202 photos 945 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I feel that a hero is somebody who will stand up for their values and what they believe in and that can take any form. People that have values and have thought them through rather than those who just do what they’re told."-Skandar Keynes

"When it’

What exactly is your side? You give points, but never say what you believe.

jeanines GOLD said...
on Mar. 3 2010 at 1:35 pm
jeanines GOLD, Stony Point, New York
19 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"the only thing to fear, is fear itself."- theodore roosevelt

r u sarah brother?