The forefathers of the United States came from England in order to practice religious freedom, and in later penning the Constitution, made provisions that protect the rights of religious practitioners, while preserving the secular nature of government. This idea is known as separation of church and state. Phillip Hamburger published a book called Separation of Church and State, in which he laid out the complex history of the notion throughout the formation of the United States. There are many other books out there that explore this idea, like Rekindled, for example. If you need to learn more about this idea, you should consider some of the points below.
Understanding What The Constitution Says About Separation Of Church And State
To learn exactly what the government says about separation of church and state, you can look no further than the First Amendment. The phrase "separation of church and state" is not found in the First Amendment, but it does state that the federal government does not have the right to institute a church or any other religious function. The government must also stay out of policies that are used to aid religion or favor one as opposed to another, according to the First Amendment. This amendment makes it clear that the government is not to play a role in such personal matters.
Important Cases That Have Shaped Separation of Church And State
As with any important legal matter, landmark cases set precedent. There are a few important cases you should know about when studying separation of church and state. The 1962 case of Engel v. Vitale set precedent regarding prayer in school. In this case, a prayer was put together to be recited by all students throughout schools in New York State. A group of parents fought this decision and won the case. In the case of Torasco v. Watkins, the state of Maryland ruled against religious based tests that were being used as voting requirements. Understanding such cases will provide some depth for your education on the subject.
Knowing What To Do If You Believe Your Rights Were Violated
Learning the law is one thing, but you should also understand how to respond if you face a perceived church-state violation in your actual life. First and foremost, make sure that you keep a cool head and look at the most reasonable and civil options for bringing attention to the matter. Once you are calm and able to speak from a rational point of view, notify the other party or appropriate persons in charge about your perceived rights violation. If your concerns are not heard, you have recourse in the form of organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Remember these tips so that you are able to understand what the law says about separation and church and state and what it may mean for you.