Re: Church-State -- some history

From: <>
Date: Thu May 13 2004 - 11:39:54 EDT

Here is something to think about regarding the church
state issue. IMO we are not serious enough about this
separation as a society. A perfect example is the recent
debate regarding same sex marriages.

What interest does the state have in marriage? It cannot
and should not be based on relgion, and should be
restricted to civil issues, like inheritance, taxes, and
the like.

In the recent legislative session, the State of Maryland,
tried to pass legislation that would allow non-married
couples to register so that they could be considered
"parteners". This has implications in things like health
care decision making for example, and would allow a
couple, not married in the traditional sense, to have
their "life partner" be the one to make decisions for them
if they are not able to make such decisions. It would
also have implications beyond that. However the bill did
not pass.

There should be marriage, in a civil sense. Who is
allowed to do that and what means it takes to do that,
should be determined by each state. But, it should not
have any church/religious connection. In other words,
being married by a priest/pastor/rabbi should have nothing
to do with it.

Of course, if one is so inclined they can have a wedding
ceremony in the traditional way, under the religious
institution of their choice. But this should not be
required. The clergy, should in no way, act in the
state's behalf, like they currently do.

On Thu, 13 May 2004 08:48:55 -0600
  John W Burgeson <> wrote:
>An e-mail being circulated by Christians who may not
>quite understand the
>current thinking on church-state issues goes as follows
>(in part):
>>>You may have heard in the news that a couple of Post
>>>Offices in Texas
>have been forced to take down small posters that say "IN
>They claim that the law is being violated; something
>silly involving
>"electioneering posters.">>
>No -- the law that is being violated is the 1st amendment
>to the
>constitution. The P.O. is a government building, and the
>government is
>enjoined by our constitution from favoring one religion
>over another.
>Some religions have a personal God; others (Buddhism, for
>instance) do
>not. The poster, whether ?small? or large, clearly favors
>a god-religion
>over one like Buddhism (there are others) and is,
>therefore, not in
>compliance with the Constitution.
>Whether the email is "bad" or not depends on how much
>time one has to do
>something that will have zero effect on anyone else. It
>is of the type
>that has reached the bottom of stupid and started to dig.
>The e-mail?s
>use of the ?persuasive adjectives? ?small,? and ?silly,?
>is one clue to
>evaluating it as junk mail.
>Not persuaded? Suppose your local Post Office, or
>Driver?s License
>Bureau, put up posters that said ?In Allah We Trust.? Or
>? ?In the Great
>Spirit We Trust.? Or ? ?God is dead. And That?s a
>Scientific Fact.?
>If ?In God We Trust? is allowable, on what basis can the
>others be
>Some history:
>Public School cases
>Minersville v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586 (1940) ? By an 8-1
>vote, a public
>school may require students to salute the flag and pledge
>allegiance even
>if it violates their religious scruples. Billy Gobitas?s
>(not a
>misspelling ? the court got it wrong) letter, asking for
>relief on
>religious grounds, written as an 8 year old, is a classic
>Several of the justices quickly came to see they had
>ruled incorrectly,
>and three years later the next case was decided. More on
>the case at
> (Including a photo of Billy?s letter).
>West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette,
>(1943) - SCOTUS
>overturned Gobitis on a 6-3 vote.
>McCollum v. Board of Education, (1948) ? Religious
>instruction in public
>schools is unconstitutional.
>Zorach v. Clausen, (1952) ? Released time from public
>school classes for
>religious instruction is OK.
>Engel v. Vitale, (1962) - School prayer ruled
>Murray v. Curlett, (1963) - Forcing a child to
>participate in Bible
>reading and prayer is unconstitutional.
>Stone v. Graham, (1980) -Posting the Ten Commandments in
>public schools
>is unconstitutional.
>Wallace v. Jaffree, (1985) - Enforcing a moment of
>silence in schools is
>Board of Education v. Mergens, (1990) - Public schools
>cannot deny equal
>access to student groups based upon religious, political,
>or other content.
>Lee v. Weisman, (1992) - Prayer at public school
>graduation ceremonies is
>Lamb's Chapel et al. v. Center Moriches Union Free School
>(1993) - School districts cannot deny churches access to
>school premises
>after-hours, if the district allows the use of its
>building to other
>Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, (2000) -
>Student-led prayers
>at public school football games are unconstitutional.
>Good News Club v. Milford Central School, (2001) ? A
>school cannot keep a
>religious club from using its facilities because the
>school had created a
>limited public forum.
>Religion in colleges/universities
>Widmar v. Vincent (1981) - A state university cannot
>refuse to grant a
>student religious group equal access.
>Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of
>Virginia, (1995)
>- Student activity funds can be used to fund a religious
>Religious school cases
>Pierce v. Society of Sisters, (1925) ? An Oregon law
>requiring all
>children 8 to 16 years old to attend public schools (thus
>preventing them
>from attending private or home schools) was struck down.
>Board of Education v. Allen, (1968) - The state may lend
>textbooks to
>private and religious schools.
>Tilton v. Richardson, (1971) - Federal funding to
>private, religious, and
>public colleges to build classrooms is constitutional.
>Committee v. Nyquist, (1973) - States cannot reimburse
>parents for
>religious school tuition..
>Roemer v. Board of Public Works, (1976) - States can
>provide grants to
>private and religious colleges.
>Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, (2002) ?Ohio's voucher program,
>which gives tax
>dollars to parents to send their children to religious or
>schools, was upheld in a 5-4 vote.
>Public Witnessing
>Jones v. Opelika, (1942) - Court upheld an ordinance
>requiring a fee for
>a license to sell books. Jehovah's Witnesses wanted to
>sell religious
>literature in a town in Alabama; they?d have to pay the
>Murdock v. Pennsylvania, (1943) - Court overruled Jones
>v. Opelika
>Marsh v. Alabama, (1946) ? People may distribute
>religious literature on
>the streets of a company town.
>Krishna v. Lee, (1992) - Airport managers can prohibit
>solicitation of
>money, but must allow the free distribution of religious
>Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York v. Village
>of Stratton,
>(2002) ? A door-to-door ordinance was ruled an
>unconstitutional burden on
>religious expression.
>Reynolds v. United States, (1878) - Polygamy outlawed.
>Wisconsin v. Yoder, (1972) - Amish do not have to obey a
>state law
>requiring children to attend school until age 16.
>Employment Division v. Smith, (1990) - The Free Exercise
>Clause cannot
>exempt one from drug laws.
>Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah, (1993) - Hialeah,
>ordinances, prohibiting members of the Santeria religion
>from sacrificing
>animals in their rituals are unconstitutional.
>Ubi Caritas
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Received on Thu May 13 11:40:28 2004

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