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separation of church and state


  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Charles C. Haynes: Dispelling the Myth of a ‘Christian Nation’

    Charles C. Haynes is senior scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center and director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum in Washington.Culture warriors, pseudo historians and opportunistic politicians have spent the last several decades peddling the myth that America was founded as a “Christian nation.”The propaganda appears to be working. A majority of the American people (51 percent) believes that the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation, according to the State of the First Amendment survey released last month by the First Amendment Center.Because language about a Christian America has long been a staple of Religious Right rhetoric, it’s not surprising that acceptance of this patently false interpretation of the Constitution is strongest among evangelicals (71 percent) and conservatives (67 percent).But even many non-evangelical Christians (47 percent) and liberals (33 percent) appear to believe the fiction of a constitutionally mandated Christian America is historical fact.Forgive me for being snippy, but read the Constitution....

  • Originally published 08/07/2013

    Student's simple stand made history in Abington v. Schempp

    He was a 16-year-old junior at Abington Senior High School, just making a statement, utterly unaware that he was about to make legal history.It was in 1956 that Ellery Schempp staged the classroom protest that yielded Abington v. Schempp, the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning mandatory Bible readings in public schools.When Schempp's homeroom teacher read aloud 10 verses from the New Testament at the start of the day, as required by Pennsylvania law, Schempp brazenly paged through a Quran he had borrowed from a friend.When a student read the Lord's Prayer over the public address system, another daily requirement, Schempp refused to stand.Those actions earned him trips to the principal and guidance counselor, and triggered years of litigation over his belief that such readings were unconstitutional....