Next to the First Amendment, then-President Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 has perhaps come to represent the most popular understanding of religious freedom in the collective mind of America. Because of Jefferson’s “wall of separation” metaphor, some would like the letter to pass back into the shadow of obscurity under which it rested prior to the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education decision. Others rejoice that the letter provides the lens through which religion itself is defined and applied in contemporary America.
Jefferson’s famous metaphor is important, but it is a star drawing into its orbit the comet of our short attention span.
John F. Kennedy's famous
Houston speech on church and state during
the 1960 presidential campaign elicited Rick Santorum's after-the-fact disgust. Though Santorum
misrepresents the speech in some ways--Kennedy didn't say anything about
limiting religious institutions and leaders from speaking on public issues--he
is right to find the speech theologically lame.
New York City mayor Michael
Bloomberg is planning ceremonies for the 9/11 anniversary without the
participation of clergy. Jay Sekulow et
al. think this is an attack on religion. Jim Wallis et al. are criticizing both sides of
this debate and also calling for less criticism of others, or something like that.
Earlier this year, a group of English bishops charged that the nation's Christians faced systematic discrimination that endangered their right to hold public office. Some even warned that anti-Christian hostility amounted to open persecution, which could provoke civil unrest. Pope Benedict, meanwhile, charged that new British statutes clearly violated natural law.
What do faith-based groups and social agencies really make of President Bush’s effort to try to expand the role of faith-based groups in addressing social needs? What do they think of the “charitable choice” legislation, which makes religious groups eligible to receive social welfare funds from the government?
Decision followed three years of student complaints
Jun 29, 2010
A federal judge has ruled that a Connecticut school board’s decision to hold graduation ceremonies inside a megachurch was unconstitutional. Com mencements for two schools in Enfield—Enfield High School and Enrico Enfermi High School—were to be held at First Cathedral in Bloomfield in late June.