October 23, 2007

Not a bad thing

Via Tony, this concise defense of separation of church and state. When did that become some kind of bad thing?

4 comments:

steve s said...

It is not a bad thing, IMO. Churches benefit from minimal governmental interference and society does not want all of it's laws based on religious morals.

The problem I have is that the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment has been expanded beyond what it originally meant. I do not believe that every single accommodation to a religion rises to the level of an 'establishment.'

Streak said...

Steve, can you give us an example of such an accommodation? Are we talking about 10 Commandments or Creche displays?

ubub said...

There is often a tension between the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause, particularly where there is a public forum involved. As noted in the article Tony linked to, kids CAN pray in a public school, that's free exercise, but public school officials acting in official capacity cannot, for example, lead kids in a prayer to Satan without running afoul of the establishment clause.

Where it gets blurry is in situations where students may pray before or after school (at the flagpole, for example) and a teacher or staff member may choose to join them. I vaguely recall a case like this. Steve, does this ring a bell?

steve s said...

10 Comm...maybe. Creches...yes. That being said, I am not a fan of displaying the TC. I think that approaches idolatry and serves no useful purpose. Creches, I don't mind one way or the other. I think there are good reasons to not display these, but I don't believe that the Constitution prevents this. Another example is MSU stopping any display of "Merry Christmas." Again, it doesn't bother me one way or the other, I just don't think the Constitution is a barrier to this kind of display.

The University of Michigan has decided to install footbaths for Muslim students in some of their public restrooms. I don't think this would survive a Constitutional challenge, but it doesn't bother me. It seems very reasonable, in my mind.

ubub, you are right about the tension between the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause. IIRC, student led prayer before school and "at the flagpole" is ok. I don't remember the specific case. Student led prayer at graduation and football games is not ok, under current case law.