The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was intended to prevent the government from establishing a religion, not keep religion out of the public sphere. First Liberty argued before the Supreme Court and asked the Court to change its perspective. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
Many of you have followed First Liberty’s case before the Supreme Court of the United States over the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial. We hope the case will provide much needed clarity to the interpretation of the First Amendment.
The Framers intended for the Establishment Clause to guard against the government establishing a national church. Read more broadly, it prevents state officials from coercing the religious beliefs and actions of its citizens. Unfortunately, as Justice Clarence Thomas has said, this area of the law is “in hopeless disarray.”
We can lay the blame at the feet of a case from 1971 called,Lemon v. Kurtzman. That decision has led to variety of confusing, court-created tests. Local officials, not knowing what to do, often ban religion. That kind of hostility to religion is something the Founders never intended.
We propose an alternative: that the U.S. Supreme Court replace those tests with an alternative more in keeping with what the Founders had in mind.
Unless the state coerces someone into a religious belief or exercise or enacts laws or policies that purport to actually establish an official religion, there is no violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Passive displays do nothing to coerce anyone into belief or religious exercise. They just stand there, reminding us of the service and sacrifice of something we would forget if we did not see a visible reminder.
To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.