• By John Hicks

Today’s application of the so-called “Separation of Church and State” is an outright assault on the

The Lemon test is a three-prong test that was used to determine whether or not something violates the Supreme Court’s current interpretation of the Establishment clause. This test was extracted from Lemon v. Kurtzman and it includes three aspects: “First, the legislative must have adopted the law with secular purpose. Second, the statute’s principle of primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion. Third, the statute must not result in an excessive entanglement of government with religion” (Edwards v. Aguillard. 482 U.S. 578 US Supreme Court. 1987). The basic purpose overall is to ensure what some perceive to be the government’s neutrality regarding something of religious nature. Chief Justice Rehnquist disagreed with the usefulness of this along with Justice Scalia (Edwards v. Aguillard).

After a concise and thorough historical tracing of the concept regarding the separation of church and state, Phillip Hamburger, John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, concluded that the current application is not only lacking constitutional authority but it has “departed from the religious liberty guaranteed by the US Constitution” and has gone so far as to “undermined this freedom” (Separation of Church and State. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2002. Page 483).

He continued to state that “It even has discriminated among religions, for it has placed especially severe limitations upon persons whose religion is that of a “church” or religious group rather than a mere individual religiosity” (Separation of Church and State. Page 484).

He also wrote that the purpose of the First Amendment was to “limit government” and that it has failed to do so and “it has been interpreted directly to constrain religion” (Separation of Church and State. Page 484).

Hamburger claims, and rightfully so, that the current interpretation of the First Amendment is being taken apart from constitutional authority.

He is absolutely right on this point.


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