"Americans are being denied the right to express their religious speech
in the public square." Ralph Reed, Christian Coalition.
"There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights.
malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it
once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter
our common schools, they would be destroyed." - Supreme Court of
Wisconsin, Weiss v. District Board, 1890-MAR-18.
The 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as interpreted by the courts, guarantees
individuals have freedom of religious expression and practice;
the government and its agencies will not recognize one religious faith as more valid
than any other faith;
the government and its agencies will not promote religion above secularism or vice
These principles are continuously in a state of creative tension:
Many Americans feel
that America was founded by Christians and remains a Christian nation, since
about 75% of its population regard themselves as Christians. They would
like to see their religion represented in municipal religious displays,
etc. Any restrictions would be regarded as an infringement of their
religious freedoms. Some would like to see all other religious excluded.
Other individuals, both Christian and non-Christian, are opposed to
their municipal government or state using religious symbols, displays or phrases. They feel that a wall of separation must
be maintained between religion and governments at all levels. They regard
this factor as outweighing any personal religious considerations that they might
have. Many feel that
the relative lack of religiously-motivated violence in the U.S. --
compared to that seen in the rest of the world -- is due to this
principle of separation.