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Church & State in the Constitution: What Does the Constitution Say?

The principle of the separation of church and state in America is derived from the Constitution, but not everyone agrees on whether this is legitimate. What exactly does the Constitution say about religion in the government and the separation of church and state? Is separating church and state truly constitutional?

Myths about United States Constitution
Lawsuits over violations of the separation of church and state rely on arguing that these are violations of people's constitutional rights. This means that confusing people with myths about what the Constitution really says and means is an important tool for those who want to undermine church/state separation and secularism in favor of some sort...

That's Not in the Constitution! Basic Rights Not Spelled Out in the Constitution
Debates about whether some particular right is in the Constitution or not are really debates about how to read and interpret the Constitution. Those who claim that the Constitution doesn't say 'right to privacy' or 'separation of church and state' are relying upon the assumption that unless a particular phrase or specific words actually appears...

What Would America's Constitution Look Like if it Weren't Godless?
America's Christian Right insists that the American Constitution somehow manages to embody Christian values and principles despite never mentioning Jesus, God, or Christianity. They insist that American law and government are Christian in nature, despite the secular wording of the Constitution. Perhaps they should stop to look at what religious constitutions look like.

America's Godless Constitution
America's Constitution makes no references to God, Jesus Christ, or Christianity. Despite this, America's Christian Right insists that the constitution embodies Christian doctrines and principles and, therefore, that Christianity should be favored by the state. How do they manage such an amazing twist of reasoning?

Sunday Mail Service in a Christian Nation
If America was founded as a Christian Nation like the Christian Right so often claims, why was mail delivered on Sundays until 1912? That's right, the absence of mail on Sundays is actually a modern development. The so-called 'Christian' founders didn't have a problem with Sunday mail delivery.

First Amendment Protects Church
Does the First Amendment of the Constitution exist solely to protect religion from government and not to protect the government from religion? There are quite a few people who think that - it's often referred to as the idea that the wall of separation between church and state only operates "one way," separating religion from government but not the government from religion.

The 1st Amendment only prohibits state interference with chruches
This myth argues that there is a "wall of separation" between church and state, but that this wall only works "one way." It prevents the state from interfering with churches and telling them what they may or may not teach, but it does not prevent churches or other religious organizations from using the state to enforce their particular religious dogmas and beliefs.

The First Amendment only applies to the Federal Government
This is a particularly sad misunderstanding, because it relies upon an ignorance - deliberate or accidental - of large portions of our legal and political history. It is true that, when it was originally ratified, the First Amendment only restricted the actions of the Federal Government. State governments were free to ignore it - and many did...

The Constitution and the Sundays Excepted Clause
Another common point of contention in the debate over whether or not the Constitution is reflects particularly Christian concerns and exists to reinforce Christian principles is the meaning of Article I, section 7 of the Constitution.

The Constitution refers to Christianity and Jesus
One common argument in favor of the separation of church and state is that the Constitution, which is the founding legal document of this nation, makes no reference to religion except in terms which would exclude it from government authority, and certainly makes no reference to Christianity.

The Constitution reflects Christian principles and morals
Another common argument offered by those opposed to the strict separation of church and state is the idea that the Constitution somehow embodies or at least reflects fundamental Christian morals and principles. The point to this claim seems to be that, if true, we should conclude that the Constitution is a Christian document, not a secular document.

Establishment of a National Church: Does the First Amendment Only Prohibit a...
This myth relies on one of two misunderstandings. The first is that the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty is only about preventing the government from setting up some particular church to which all must belong. The second is that the First Amendment does not prohibit 'multiple establishments' - showing equal preference for many...

Separation of Church and State: Is it in the Constitution?
The phrase 'separation of church and state' does not appear in the Constitution, but the absence of this phrase does not mean that it is an invalid concept or that it cannot be used as a legal or judicial principle.

Divine Rights vs. Popular Sovereignty
If our rights come from the Ten Commandments, the Bible, and God, then we must have a divinely anointed government and a theocratic system where we wouldn't have any rights anymore. The only protection for our rights is to recognize that human rights are a human creation - that they are part of us, not above us.

Undermining Support for Theocracy in America
Is it possible to reduce support for amending the U.S. Constitution to make Christianity the official religion? It's far too high (32%) and most evangelicals want it (66%). Something needs to be done.

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