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Separation of Church and State

November 06, 2012
Group owner Richard Martine

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Separation of Church and State

By: Richard Martine   Post Date : November 06, 2012
Prior to coming to the United States, many settlers had been persecuted for their religious beliefs. So when it came time to create the foundation for which the new country would grow from, one of the first things that the founders wanted to do was make sure there was a separation between these two powerful entities, the church and state.

The founders wasted no time insuring that the two powerful entities would not be allowed to join forces when the new country was formed. The need to keep the government and church separated was included in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...."

Article VI furthered the idea: "No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

The concept has been one that has been heavily debated throughout the history of the nation. One school of thought is that the framers wanted the separation of church and state, hence the inclusion of the Establishment Clause and the aforementioned part of Article VI. The counter-opinion claims that at the time the Constitution was being created and approved there were already many aspects of religion that were already a part of how the state operated.

These waters are further muddied when you examine the text of some of the state constitutions. While Article VI forbids federal government employees from being required to have certain religious beliefs, many state constitutions do the opposite. Some of them require a belief in a Supreme Being; others require a belief in a type of "heaven" and "hell."

The issue has been a hotly debated since the country was formed, and will probably always be one as long as the nation recognizes the right to religious freedom.

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