Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion and separation of church and state are controversial areas. Some people believe that abandoning the Judeo-Christian heritage of the United States is detrimental to the country. Others want to express their own religious beliefs without having other beliefs imposed upon them. Yet both of these opinions are but two sides of the same coin, for by virtue of not establishing a particular religion, the state allows everyone the freedom to practice their own beliefs. The United States has a strong history of religious freedom and separation of church and state. The original settlers to America left England because of religious persecution and were free to practice their own religion in the new country. Thus, the separation of church and state was an important issue when the Constitution was being written and is a well established doctrine in American political history.

To prepare for this assignment:

  • Review the article “Jefferson’s Legacy to the Supreme Court: Freedom of Religion.” Focus on the history of freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.
  • Peruse the chapter entitled “Freedom of Religion” in your course text, Landmark Supreme Court Cases: The Most Influential Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. Pay particular attention to how the Supreme Court ruled on freedom of religion cases as well as the degree to which the separation of church and state argument came into play.
  • Review the U.S. Supreme Court cases City of Boerne v. Flores and Sherbert v. Verner in the LexisNexis Academic database. Consider how the Court used separation of church and state to rule on each of these cases.
  • Reflect upon the relevance of the concept of separation of church and state in American society today, given the current political climate and demographics.

 

The assignment: (2-3 pages)

 

  • Briefly explain the scope of freedom of religion. To what degree does freedom of religion apply to the practice and expression of religion and the display of religious symbols in the United States?
  • Briefly explain the rationale for freedom of religion.
  • Explain how federal and/or state courts have used the concept of separation of church and state to rule on freedom of religion cases. Be specific and use examples to illustrate your explanation.
  • Based on the cases you read this week, the demographics of the United States, and the current political climate in the United States, explain your thoughts about the current relevance of the concept of separation of church and state. Justify your response.

 

Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not included in the Learning Resources for this course.

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