Church and State

Essay by angiedmusicgirlUniversity, Master'sA+, February 2004

download word file, 4 pages 5.0

It is unconstitutional for local state or federal governments to favor one religion over another? Government can show favoritism toward religion by displaying religious symbols in public places at taxpayer expense, by sponsoring events like Christmas concerts, caroling, or by supporting the teaching of religious ideas. It appears the United States government has had a history of favoring Christianity.

The United States government's favoritism of Christianity is a clear violation of the First Amendment. This amendment states that "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

There have been several court cases on this and related issues which include Lee vs. Weisman, Everson vs. the Board of Education, and Lynch vs. Donnelly.

In Lee vs. Weisman, the Court held that prayers at any official public school graduation ceremonies violate the Establishment Clause. Even the content of the prayer was known beforehand it was a member of the clergy that delivered the prayer.

However, the Court held the prayers were unconstitutional because student would be a "captive audience" since they would be compelled to attend their graduation and they would be under pressure to participate in the prayer or to conform because of the content of the prayer. Also, any graduation ceremony is a school sponsored event, any prayer led by a student and/or member of the clergy would be considered sanctioned so it would be considered unconstitutional. It is understandable that public school prayer discriminates against some religious views so it is prohibited in public schools and school sponsored events. Similarly, Christmas concerts play a role similar to the teaching of creationism and prayer. The Christmas concerts subconsciously influence students towards beliefs of Christianity. To be fair to non-Christian groups, converting "Christmas" to "Holiday" concerts would maintain the "separation of...