Group Three: Should Church and State Be Separated? Topic One: What were the effects of September 11th?

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Matt Fhaner

Jodie Thomas

Kathleen Rappa

Ray Chan

Group Three: Should Church and State Be Separated?
Topic One: What were the effects of September 11th?
The attacks of 9/11 made many people re-evaluate their faith. This surge in religious faith has had major implications on how the government deals with the issue of separation of church and state.

  • After September 11th two prominent television preachers, Jerry Farwell and Pat Robertson, attempted to blame the terrorist attacks on groups that support separation of church and state. The two preachers blame groups such as the ACLU, abortionists, gays and lesbians, and people for the American Way.

  • Oklahoma Representative Ernest J. Istook is trying to pass an amendment in the Bill of Rights that will allow more school prayer in public schools. He put the bill into congress after 9/11 thinking that it would be easier to pass with this new found faith in the United States. The first time he tried to pass the bill, he failed.

  • The Americans United argues that our civil liberties are more at risk in time of crisis and it is important to try and uphold them. They claim that the “natural” reaction of many Americans is to turn to faith, but this is singling out the majority of people who would not turn to religion.

  • President Bush called for a national day of prayer after September 11th which is technically unconstitutional. Thomas Jefferson explained during his presidency that he was prohibited from declaring a national religious day of fasting. This would cross the “wall of separation.”

Topic Two: Did the Framers Intend for Strict Separation Between Church and State?
The largest problem with separation between church and state is that the first amendment can be interpreted two very different ways depending on who is reading it. As time went by congress created laws without loop holes and it is uncertain whether the constitutional framers intended strict separation or not.
For Strict Separation:

  • Jefferson and Madison advocated that strict separation would help protect both religion and government.

  • The only mention of religion in the original constitution was in Article VI which stated “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to and Office or Public Trust under the United States.”

  • When drafting the Bill of Rights the main focus was to put a division between church and state. This shows the true intention of the framers of the Constitution.

Against Strict Separation:

  • Framers intended to deny the possibility of making a national religion, not dividing church and state completely.

  • Society has changed very much since the time when the constitution was formed. America now has many more types of religions, and beliefs have become more varied.

Topic Three: Is the Faith-Based Initiative a good idea or a bad idea?
President Bush introduced his Faith-Based Initiative program which would allow money to be granted to non-profit faith-based groups that provide a legitimate and successful program for those in need. This program is very controversial and largely debated by many people.
For Faith-Based Initiative:

  • It removes legal barriers so that every organization that is eligible has a chance to receive money.

  • It allows religious providers to maintain their identity while asking for grants.

  • It puts emphasis on results instead of affiliation of a group.

  • It encourages states and local governments to help non-profit and faith based groups to increase capacity and technical expertise

Against Faith-Based Initiative:

  • It crosses the boundaries between church and state

  • It may result in excessive religious reliance on public money

  • It may result in improper religious use of public funds if not monitored closely

  • It implies government considers faith-based providers superior to secular ones resulting in unequal treatment in granting funds

  • A result may be that some religious groups with insufficient funds may start offering social programs with intent to receive grants instead of for the good of those they serve

Topic Four: Should prayer be allowed in public schools?
Keeping church and state separate also means keeping prayer and religious symbols out of public schools. Though the Constitution sets standards for church and state religion is deeply embedded in American heritage and tradition making it difficult to keep religion out of schools.
For School Prayer:

  • Those making decisions about prayer in school are often opinionated judges and politicians who do not necessarily represent the public’s view on school prayer.

  • School prayer in no way enforces beliefs on students. Prayer is often voluntary confessions of faith which is not forced upon anyone who is not willing.

  • A short prayer at the beginning of each school day does not infringe on education of the students and takes away very little time from learning.

  • Prayer might help alleviate school delinquency.

Against School Prayer

  • Prayer is a religious activity which violates first amendment of freedom of religion guaranteeing that no one person should be forced to endure religious acts of a majority.

  • Even in voluntary prayer students feel peer pressure to conform.

  • Teachers are public employees paid by tax payers. Even leading a short prayer is a use of tax money and being a figure of authority implies approval of a certain religion or religious view point.

  • Since a majority of people in America are Christian leading prayer is often offensive to religions of the minority.

Works Cited
Baptist Joint Committee. “The Constitution’s Framers Intended Strict Separation of Church and State.” Civil Liberties. Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego, California: Greenhaven P. 1999. 120-27.
Bowles, Linda. “ Prohibiting School Prayer Threatens Religious Liberty.” .” Civil Liberties. Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego, California: Greenhaven P. 1999. 142-45.
Evans, M. Stanton. “The Constitution’s Framers Did Not Intend Strict Separation of Church and State.” Civil Liberties. Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego, California: Greenhaven P. 1999. 128-37.
Haas, Carol. Engel v. Vitale: Separation of Church and State. New Jersey: Springfield, 1994.
National Congress for Community Economic Development. Pros and Cons of the Bush Faith-based initiatives. 1 Apr. 2001 .
Americans United. Church-State Separation and the Aftermath of Sept. 11. 24 Oct. 2001 .
Americans United. Americans United Responds to Statements by Farwell, Robertson About Terrorist Attack on America. 17 Sept. 2001 .
Americans United. Rep. Istook to Reintroduce School Prayer Amendment to U.S. Constitution. 29 Oct. 2001 <>.
Americans United. Prayer Warriors. Dec. 2001 .

Directory: ~fhanerma

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