Religion in the Public Arena

Essay by jvincent001University, Master's October 2006

download word file, 7 pages 3.0

When the Founding Fathers drew up the Constitution by which United States citizens are governed today, it is doubtful they had any idea freedom of religion would be so challenged as it is today. After years of religious oppression hundreds fled to North America where they hoped to enjoy the freedom to worship as they pleased. When the First Amendment was added to the Constitution, it is also doubtful there would be such controversy over church and state. The people understood the First Amendment would protect them and give them the right to worship without interference from the government or others of different beliefs. They prayed in schools and discussed Christian beliefs openly. No way could they conceive the literal meaning of the First Amendment. They only thought it was to keep government from applying demands concerning religion from them. They were so immersed in Christianity, never would they imagine someone would challenge prayers or religion-related issues to come under such scrutiny as it is today.

Today in America there are serious concerns about issues dealing with church and state. The main issue, the separation of church and state within the United States, predominantly deals with how Americans respond to the First Amendment. Throughout history, there have been many court cases dealing with separation of church and state. The Engel vs. Vitale, one of the better-known court cases, specifically challenges the law as outlined in the First Amendment and will be referenced further. The First Amendment is of great importance to the American people because it entails not only the freedoms we are privileged to enjoy, but speaks to our emotions and senses as well.

The court case of Engel versus Vitale made its way through the court system reaching all the way to the Supreme Court whose verdict...