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Issues of Religion Freedom in the U.S.

This secularizing movement was influenced by the growth of religious pluralism in 19th Century America (largely because of the immigration of large numbers of Catholics) and other structural changes in the economy (primarily industrialization and the resulting greater degree of government intervention in private lives) which encouraged secular education and secular values in the workplace. A wall of separation grew up between church and state.

Hammond regards the post-World War II decisions of the Court banning prayer and other organized devotional activities in the public schools such as Engle v. Vitale (1962), Schemp v. Murray (1963) and Lee v. Weisman (1992) as a continuation of a long established secularizing trend. To be sure, the Court has permitted, ofttimes without a clear rationale, under cases such as Everson v. Board of Education (1947) and Mueller v. Allen (1983), some state financial and instructional support for parochial schools where the primary purpose of that support was secular. Hammond regards this apparent countertrend as little more than a recognition by the Court of the practical fiscal woes which would follow from a denial of all public support for parochial schools, which carry much of the educational burden which would otherwise fall on the states.

Free Exercise Clause. Hammond points out that some of Founding Fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, favored an expansive interpretation of the free exercise clause to protect freedom of conscience. However, the Court moved gradually, finally covering non-conventional religious beliefs, such as by upholding the rights of Jehovah's Witnesses to refuse to salute the flag in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), to proselytize in Catholic neighborhoods in Cantwell, validating the right of a Seventh Day Adventist who refused to work on Saturday to claim unemployment compensation in Sherbert v. Verner (1963) and the right of t...

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Issues of Religion Freedom in the U.S.. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:21, August 17, 2017, from
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