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Religion and the Constitution

Discuss the concept of establishment of religion and the relevancy of Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 (1952); Mueller v. Allen, 464 U.S. 388 (1983); and Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, 515 U.S.

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First of all, the establishment clause comes from the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It reads, "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 peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (U.S. Const. Amend. I.) The establishment clause is the first clause of the amendment - "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," (U.S. Const. Amend. I.).

The establishment clause was written to prevent the government from establishing a state religion, such as England had. The Founders wanted to avoid another religion which was state-sponsored. After all, one of the main reasons that early settlers came to this country was to secure freedom of religion. They did not want to be forced to attend a church. They wanted to make the decision for themselves. The expression "separation of church and state" came from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a pastor in which he stated that there needed to be a wall of separation between church and state so that the government would not be able to tell churches what to do and so that churches would not be able to tell the government what to do. Since the first amendment was ratified, there have been many Supreme Court cases which have attempted to establish rules about what was allowed and what wasn't, when it comes to the ...

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The expert discusses the concepts of establishment of religion and the relevancy of Zorch versus Clauson.