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Seperation of church & state

Within recent past years, the issue of Church and State has been a continuous concern of many Americans and the focus of numerous debates. The dispute is in the interpretation of the United States Bill of Rights First Amendment which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance” (NARA). It is contested that the First Amendment states one of two things, that the nation should have no established religion, it should be of personal preference and choice to the individual, or that there should be a strict division between church and state, in the sense that prayer in public schools is intolerable. This will be our main focus for the purpose of this paper.

The subject matter is one is which I have personally seen progress. When I attended Elementary school, no wrongdoing was seen in organized prayer or worship and the Pledge of Allegiance was said using “under God”. However, before the time that I reached upper Elementary education, the statement was silently skipped over. Though my young mind questioned that it was just mistakenly skipped, the issue as to why it had been removed was never questioned by me or any of my classmates, it was simply accepted. Small changes kept appearing in the way religion was handle during school hours. It got so serious that prayer meetings were moved to before and after school and God’s name was scarcely mentioned. The Ten Commandments were no longer posted without accommodating Commandments of other religions. Though I am now in college, the issue of church and state is still strongly contested within public schools and universities.

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Though the concerns of church and state are broad and deeply integrate, the controversy of prayer in school tends to arouse the most emotion. The argument stems most directly from the fact that public schools are funded and supported by taxpayers. Therefore, believers do not want their money supporting a facility that does not allow his/ her children to pray and non-believers do not want their money supporting an institution that requires their children to participate in prayer. Although the First Amendment of the United State Constitution is said to protect both the believer and the non-believer, it is argued that it does neither and that in fact, it was never established for the purpose of their protection.

Non-believers dispute that pressures are still felt by their children because of things that are allowed to happen within school systems. The students are not allowed to hold religious meetings during school hours; however, they can propagandize their beliefs. Administration allows for posters to be hung on the walls about religious activities, these walls that are built with the money of both non-believers and believers. The students are also allowed to converse about their religious matters on other tax paid property (buses, etc.) Believers argue that their children beliefs can not be confined. They state that their ideas are not forced upon non-believers, but that everyone has the right to choose to believe or not, regardless of where and when religious activities are conducted. Their strongest argument is in the matter of restricting their children from praying in school. The government believes that they mandate a neutral standpoint through their proxy. They justify the conduction of school systems by the fact that educators and administrators who facilitate the schools do not lead prayer in school and do not force believing children to pray a certain way.

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The irony of the situation is that all parties are wrong. The division of church and state in this sense was never actually intended by the Founding Fathers. The United States Bill of Rights First Amendment was actually established to restrict the nation from organized religion. It prohibited upper authorities from forcing their beliefs and ideas on the individuals of the nation and of the state. The Founding Fathers only intended to prevent a single national denomination, not to prevent public religious expression. Austin Cline discusses this misconception in his article Separation of Church and State Myth: Is it in the Constitution? by stating that the phrase church and state never actually appears in the constitution and that the people have drawn “incorrect conclusions”(Cline).

Though I do agree with Cline, that this was not the original intentions of our Founding Fathers, the implication is there and our opinions and beliefs will be stated. My personal belief is that the matter has gone much too far to undo all the rules and restrictions that are now applied. Issues have been addressed regarding everything from prayer at graduations to prayer in sports. The argument of church and state is one that could be forever debated. Thomas Jefferson referred to church and state as a “loathsome combination”. I feel it is best if we draw a complete division between church and state.

The problem with this is that no one knows where the division should be drawn. Though most recognize it is the best solution, no settlement can be decided. There is no way to go back and discuss the literal meaning of our Founding Fathers. Therefore it is left to interpretation, which is the root of all-cause for separation of church and state. And the issue has now become whether or not the United States Constitution should be tampered with for justification of religious actions and non-actions of non-believers. At this point maybe we should take the stance that, “I may not believe what you believe, but I believe that you have the right to believe it.”

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Seperation of church & state. (2021, Mar 11). Retrieved March 22, 2023, from