Church and State Terms
Get down with the lingo.
Abington School District V. SchemppIn this 1963 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a Pennsylvania law requiring the reading of Biblical scriptures in public schools was a violation of the establishment clause. The Court rejected the state’s argument that the daily exercise was designed to teach moral values, not religious doctrine.
Agostini V. FeltonIn this 1997 case, the United States Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision (Aguilar v. Felton) that a New York City program designed to provide tutoring and remedial education services to low-income children could not deliver these service on a religious school campus. Holding that allowing public employees to provide tutoring on a religious school campus would not constitute a "symbolic union" of church and state, the Court held that the federally-funded program could deliver its services on a religious school campus without violating the establishment clause.
Cantwell V. ConnecticutIn this 1940 case, the United States Supreme Court held that a local solicitation ordinance violated the First Amendment rights of two Jehovah’s Witnesses. In reaching this decision, the Court "incorporated" the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment making its terms applicable to the state governments as well as the federal government.
Child Benefit TheoryFirst advanced in reference to the First Amendment, by the United States Supreme Court in 1947 in Everson v. Board of Education, the child benefit theory is one of the primary tests for evaluating various forms of public aid to religious schools. If the student, rather than the religious school, is the primary beneficiary of the state aid, such as state financing for secular textbooks and other materials, and publicly funded transportation on public buses, then the aid does not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Committee For Public Education And Religious Liberty V. NyquistIn this 1973 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a New York program that reimbursed the parents of private school students for tuition expenses violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Only low-income families qualified. The funds were derived from general tax revenues.
Doctrine Of IncorporationThis legal doctrine states that the restrictions and demands placed on the federal government by the Bill of Rights apply selectively to the states as well. Even though initially these restrictions and demands were addressed only to the federal government, they have been extended to the states by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment declares that the states may not "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." The Court has held that the protections extended under the Bill of Rights are central to our understanding of liberty and therefore "fundamental" to the states’ guarantee of due process of law.
Edwards V. AguillardIn this 1987 case, the United States Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that required the teaching of creationism alongside evolution. The Court ruled that the law failed to pass the criteria established in Lemon v. Kurtzman (the "Lemon Test")—that is, the law advanced a religious objective and it led to the excessive entanglement of church and state by mandating "the symbolic and financial support of government to achieve a religious purpose."3
Employment Division V. SmithIn this 1990 case, the United States Supreme Court upheld a government refusal to provide unemployment benefits to two men fired for using drugs. The fired employees claimed that their use of peyote was part of a Native American religious ritual and therefore they were protected from retaliatory action by the First Amendment. But the Court held that "if prohibiting the exercise of religion . . . is not the object . . . but merely the incidental effect of a generally applicable and otherwise valid provision, the First Amendment has not been offended."4 In other words, if a law is generally defensible and its purposes are valid, an individual’s religious reasons for violating that law do not entitle him to any extraordinary protection from the consequences.
Engel V. VitaleIn this 1962 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Regents’ Prayer, recited daily in New York public schools, violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Despite claims that the prayer was denominationally neutral and that students could choose to remain silent or leave the room, the Court held that in composing an "official prayer" and coordinating a daily religious observance, the state had violated the First Amendment.
Epperson V. ArkansasIn this 1968 case, the United States Supreme Court struck down an Arkansas state law that prohibited the teaching of Darwinian evolution. The Court held that the First Amendment requires government neutrality on questions of religion and overturned the Arkansas State Supreme Court that had ruled that the state’s law represented a legitimate exercise of its authority to determine school curriculum.
Equal Access Act Of 1984This federal law requires public high schools to permit student religious groups to meet on school grounds just like any other student group.
Established ChurchAn established church is designated as the official church of the state and/or receives financial support from the government. During America’s colonial period most colonies had an established church. Massachusetts was the last state to disestablish its state church; it did so in 1833.
Establishment ClauseThe establishment clause of the First Amendment specifies that Congress "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." In the most basic terms, this means that Congress can not identify an official or national church, or collect taxes or provide public money to support a specific religion.
Everson V. Board Of Education, Township Of EwingIn this 1947 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that New Jersey’s law subsidizing the transportation of students to Catholic schools on public buses was not a violation of the establishment clause. Although the Court applied a restrictive interpretation of allowable state aid to religious schools, it held that transportation, like police and fire protection, advanced the public welfare, and that the child, not the religious school, was the primary beneficiary of the aid. Therefore the state’s practice did not violate the First Amendment.
Faith-Based And Community InitiativesIntroduced in 2001 by President George W. Bush, this program funnels federal dollars to church-affiliated organizations that address public needs such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation and domestic violence. Critics have argued that this represents a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
First AmendmentRatified in 1791, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that "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."5
For this course, we're only really interested in one part of the First Amendment; namely, freedom of speech. The First Amendment allows you to stand on a soapbox and loudly discuss how you think the universe is being controlled by a hybrid parrot and cat, and how this Parrotcat is going to swoop down upon us in twelve years time. You're totally within your right to do that, all thanks to the First Amendment. As long as you don't start making death threats (because the First Amendment can't protect you if you start doing that nonsense), you're golden. Fly free, Parrotcat.
Free Exercise ClauseThe free exercise clause of the First Amendment specifies that Congress may not pass laws "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion. In the most basic terms, this means that Congress may not interfere with the manner in which a person chooses to worship.
General AssessmentFirst proposed by Virginia in 1776, a general assessment was tax collected by the state and distributed to the churches identified by individual taxpayers. It was proposed as an alternative to the older practice in which states provided public support to only one church.
Kitzmiller V. DoverIn this 2005 case, a United States District Court ruled that a Pennsylvania school district’s "intelligent design policy" violated the First Amendment. Under this policy, district teachers were required to inform students of the "gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory," and they were required to introduce "other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design."
Lemon TestThis is the criteria established by the 1971 United States Supreme Court decision in Lemon v. Kurtzman for determining whether a form of public aid to religious schools violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. To be constitutional, the aid must 1) advance a secular objective, 2) neither advance nor inhibit religion, and 3) not lead to the excessive entanglement of government and religion. The first two criteria had been introduced earlier; the third represented a new legal test for a form of government aid.
This is when you ignore the horror on other customers' faces and squeeze a lemon to see if it's fresh. Just kidding—it has nothing to do with citrus. The Lemon Test consists of three questions that the courts use to decide if a religion-related law is constitutional or not: Does the law cause excessive government entanglement with religion? Does the law advance religious practice? Is the law secular in purpose?