Reaction to the Founding Fathers Intention of the Religion’s FirstAmendment
The Founding Fathers basic intentions were seclude the governmentfrom involvement with the religious beliefs, activities and practicesas the drafted the Constitution and the First Amendment. Theytargeted to promote individuals freedom and to bring religiousconvictions to the public arena except that it bars the governmentfrom favouring one on either or both religious and non-religiousbasis. In light of this reaction, this paper expands on the FoundingFathers beliefs to the differentreferences to religion in the 1st Amendment. The paper will alsoprovide examples of how the courts and government have followed theoriginal intent.
Belief in the First Reference
As for the first reference to the religion’s 1st Amendment that isthe Establishment Clause, the Founding Fathers implied the separationof church and state but not religion from politics even though theydid not use the exact words. More so, by using the word “church”they did not mean Christianity only but all the religions becausethey intended to keep the government away from it. The prohibition ofthe federal government involvement in religion at national levelinitially made in 1791 supports this implication. By 1833, allnations had separated the government from religion and in the 20thcentury, the U.S Supreme Court adopted the clause to the 14thAmendment forbidding all government levels from inhibiting oradvancing religion (Green 2). The religion systems and the governmentwere to remain separate to avoid any advancement or deviation fromthe original dogmas of religions. Moreover, the separation inhibitedthe state from legislating laws that expand or contract thestructures of religion.
Belief in the Second Reference
For the second reference to religion’s 1st Amendment that is theFreedom Exercise Clause, the Founding Fathers had it in mind to forma protection from the tyranny of organized religion and censoredfreedoms of speech. The nation fathers did not want the government torestrict or interfere with the expressions of speech, religiousactivities and press. The sole intention of this reference was to barthe United States government from meddling with the state’s rightson an individual, therefore, insuring the retention of their rights.To be specific, they targeted the restriction of the Congress alonewhile they left the States not restricted by this Amendment “Congressshall make no law prohibiting the free exercise…” (Mansfield 4).This aspect has helped in the development of religious aspects andsystems without politicians interfering with the development orpeople’s rights to join a religious body.
Examples of Courts and Government’s Application of the OriginalIntent
The Supreme Court along with the government have followed theoriginal intent of the Amendment is some cases presented in thecourt. For example, the United States Supreme Court first applied theEstablishment Clause to the Everson vs. Board of Educationcases. They based their decisions from the original statement ofJefferson, “wall of separation…” (Green 3). The contenderargued that private religious schools infringed the constitutionprohibition against religion support since taking the taxpayers moneyviolated the constitution. As much as the Justices remained split onthe stand of the constitution and spiritual support, a majorityconcluded that the funding was “separate” thus unquestionablymarked off from the functions of the religion and did not breach theconstitution.
Other cases where the courts applied the First Amendment includeTerrett vs. Taylor (1815) where the Court ruled on a disputeover church lands. Under the 1st Amendment and Constitution, thestate did not have the authority to deed a church’s land but heCourt found it inconsistent and deeded the land to the states. InReynolds vs. U.S (1878), the Congress was prohibited fromregulating religious acts. According to the Founding Fathers theCongress had no right to restrict bigamy and so the Court applied andconcluded that making religious rules superior would lead toindividuals establishing law to them. Following the implication ofThomas Jefferson, the Court rendered the government irrelevant andineffectual in controlling religious practices. Whether dissenting oraffirming the cases, the justices required and applied a distinctseparation between the religion and the government (Ruane 25). Thecase allowed the separation of the two systems to avoid the law ofthe land ruling supreme over religion or religious dogmas rulingsupreme over people’s rights.
All in all the nation founders disagreed about the preciseinterpretation of “no law to respecting an establishment” of the1st Amendment to prevent government interference. James Madison andThomas Jefferson stood for the view that there could be no realreligious liberation without sorting out the church from the state.They believed that any government involvement in religious issues orthe church bring corruption. As such, the discussion shows that thefounding fathers believed that the state and the religious fraternityshould have a connection but develop separately. The separation hasallowed individuals to have the liberty of worship without anyinterference from the state.
Green, Steven K. "The Separation of Churchand State in the United States." AmericanHistory (2014): 1-19. Print.
Mansfield, John H. "The Religion Clauses ofthe First Amendment and the Philosophy of the Constitution."California Law Review72.5 (1984): 1-62. Web.
Ruane, Kathleen Ann. "Freedom of Speech andPress: Exceptions to the First Amendment." CongressionalResearch Services (2014): 1-35. Print.