Church and State

October 28, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 37
Is Jefferson's wall of separation eroding?
By Reed Karaim


In three controversial decisions this year, the Supreme Court reignited a long-running debate: How should the First Amendment's clauses on religion be interpreted? Critics say the court's rulings in favor of religious legal claims have significantly eroded the separation between church and state. Supporters of the decisions say they simply recognize the right to religious free expression that is also guaranteed by the First Amendment. The rulings have encouraged some activists to push for a greater religious presence in public schools. The dispute over the role of religion in public life was also stoked by earlier court rulings allowing businesses to deny some services and opt out of government health care mandates based on an owner's religious beliefs. Some conservatives are going further, saying the United States should officially be declared a Christian nation and should reflect Christian principles. These calls come at a time when public polling shows Americans are less religious than ever.

Photo of former football coach Joseph Kennedy at Supreme Court on April 25, 2022. (Getty Images/Win McNamee)
Joseph Kennedy, a former football coach for Bremerton High School in Washington state, prays in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after his case on religious freedom was argued on April 25. The court ruled he had the right to pray at midfield following football games at his public high school. Some say recent court rulings have diminished the separation of church and state. (Getty Images/Win McNamee)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oct. 28, 2022  Church and State
May 29, 2020  Christians in the Mideast
Sep. 28, 2018  Christianity in America
Jun. 23, 2017  Future of the Christian Right
Jun. 07, 2013  Future of the Catholic Church
Jan. 2011  Crisis in the Catholic Church
Sep. 21, 2007  Rise of Megachurches
Sep. 14, 2001  Evangelical Christians
Feb. 26, 1999  Future of the Papacy
Dec. 11, 1998  Searching for Jesus
Jul. 22, 1988  The Revival of Religion in America
Dec. 02, 1983  Christmas Customs and Origins
Jun. 10, 1983  Martin Luther After 500 Years
Aug. 08, 1975  Year of Religion
Jul. 26, 1972  Fundamentalist Revival
Jan. 04, 1967  Religion in Upheaval
Aug. 03, 1966  Religious Rivalries in South Viet Nam
Nov. 11, 1964  Church Tax Exemption
Aug. 05, 1964  Catholic Schools
Oct. 14, 1963  Churches and Social Action
Jun. 19, 1963  Vatican Policy in a Revolutionary World
Jan. 05, 1962  Rome and Christian Unity
Mar. 26, 1958  Church-Related Education
Dec. 18, 1957  Church Consolidation
Jun. 05, 1957  Evangelism in America
Jun. 23, 1955  Religious Boom
Aug. 13, 1952  Church Unity in America
Feb. 12, 1947  Relations with the Vatican
Dec. 21, 1923  The New Schism in the Church and the Immaculate Conception
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