Establishment of religion


Establishment of religion

An establishment of religion is the phrase used by the framers of the U.S. Constitution to refer to any religion or religious organization. Judaism, the Catholic Church, and the Church of England are all establishments of religion. Unfortunately, "establishment" is frequently misused as "establishing," but its use here is closer to a "dry cleaning establishment" than establishing anything. When the Constitution prohibits "respecting an establishment of religion," it is saying that one religious establishment cannot be given preference over another — there cannot be a state religion or a state church. And naturally from this it follows that the state cannot establish its own religion. [http://www.teachingaboutreligion.org/MiniCourse/Lesson1/1st_amendment.htm]

Although nowadays associated primarily with Islamic states (such as Twelver Shia Islam in Iran), established religions have also been a hallmark of European countries. During the Protestant Reformation, the issue of which church was to be the established one was highly contentious, as Protestant and Catholic states fought, not only each other, but also dissident factions within their borders on the basis of official religion. The importance of official religions in Europe gradually dwindled after the Reformation.

In some nations that still have an established church, the official status of the church is largely a technicality and freedom of religion is guaranteed. The Church of England is an example. It is, however, also possible to have a national church which is not established, like the Church of Scotland, which has no constitutional links with the state. Some countries, such as Germany and Finland, grant an official status to more than one church, with privileges such as the state collection of church taxes on their respective members.

In the United States, the Constitution not only forbids the establishment of religion but also guarantees individual freedom of religion ("free exercise"). This means the government cannot favor one faith over another. The Supreme Court has also ruled that the government cannot favor religion in general. In Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet [http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=000&invol=U10355] , Justice Souter wrote in the opinion for the Court that: "government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion." [http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/93-517.ZS.html] Everson v. Board of Education established that "neither a state nor the Federal Government can"..." pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another". Some have interpreted this to mean that the employment of chaplains in the military or by local police forces, even if all major denominations are represented, would be unconstitutional.

ee also

* Antidisestablishmentarianism
* Christian anarchism
* Disestablishmentarianism
* First Amendment
* Secularism
* State religion
* Established church
* Separation of church and state
* Separation of church and state in the United States


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • establishment of religion — See establishment clause …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • Religion in the United States — has a history of diversity, due in large part to the nation s multicultural demographic makeup. Among developed nations, the US is one of the most religious in terms of its demographics. According to a 2002 study by the Pew Global Attitudes… …   Wikipedia

  • religion — religionless, adj. /ri lij euhn/, n. 1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and… …   Universalium

  • Establishment Clause of the First Amendment — The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment refers to the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion .... Together… …   Wikipedia

  • Establishment Clause — the article in the First Amendment to the American Constitution which created the separation of church and state in the US by forbidding the government to establish a state religion. The US Supreme Court used it in 1962 for a decision that… …   Universalium

  • Establishment — * The Establishment was a term for a traditional conservative ruling class and its institutions. In this context the term may also refer to that which is mainstream. * The Establishment (club), an English satire club in the early 1960s, founded… …   Wikipedia

  • establishment clause — That provision of the First Amendment to U.S. Constitution which provides that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... . Such language prohibits a state or the federal… …   Black's law dictionary

  • establishment clause — That provision of the First Amendment to U.S. Constitution which provides that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... . Such language prohibits a state or the federal… …   Black's law dictionary

  • establishment clause — The provision of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States concerning establishment of religion, the meaning of which is that neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church; neither can pass laws which aid one… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • religion — Man s relation to Divinity, to reverence, worship, obedience, and submission to mandates and precepts of supernatural or superior beings. In its broadest sense includes all forms of belief in the existence of superior beings exercising power over …   Black's law dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.