Thursday, February 08, 2007

Everson v. Board of Education

This is a repost from: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

I added the links to the case.

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Get out your party hats, put on your dancing shoes, and buy a cake! It's time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the most important church-state case you never heard of. That's right, Saturday, February 10th, marks the 60th anniversary of Everson v. Board of Education, the seminal Supreme Court decision where justices unanimously agreed there is and should be a high wall of separation between church and state.

That wasn't a typo, you read it right ... In 1947 every justice on the Supreme Court supported the principle of church-state separation. Wouldn't it be nice if that were the case today? Since it isn't, the job of defending religious liberty falls to us. You can help advance the cause and celebrate the Everson anniversary by getting 6 for 60, encourage 6 more people to sign the First Freedom First petition.

Everson v. Board of Education was about government subsidies for buses to take children to parochial schools. Though the subsidies were upheld by a slim majority of justices, the decision was a huge loss for opponents of church-state separation. The justices may have disagreed about exactly how high the wall of separation should be, but they were unanimous in support of having a strong one. In this ruling, Justice Hugo Black wrote that the wall "… must be kept high and impregnable."

The Everson decision made it clear that government cannot establish a religion in any way. It cannot, "pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another." Nor can it try to influence or coerce people in matters of religion. Specifically, "No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance." Likewise, no one can be forced to pay taxes to support religious activities or institutions. The Everson decision's ringing endorsement of religious liberty for all made it the most important and influential church-state ruling of the 20th century.

Unfortunately today, with two Supreme Court justices who are openly hostile to the Everson decision and two new justices on the bench, we cannot count on the judiciary to uphold our constitutional rights. Instead, we have to band together to safeguard separation of church and state with others who share our commitment.

This is what First Freedom First is all about. Help celebrate the 60th anniversary of Everson by working to ensure the principle it articulated lives on. So get out your party hats, put on your dancing shoes and make a commitment today to get 6 for 60! Encourage 6 new people to sign the First Freedom First petition!

PS If you'd like to learn more about the Everson decision and the Religious Right's attempts to undermine it, check out the article here.

Sincerely, The First Freedom First Team

Beth Corbin and Bethany Moore of Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Donna Red Wing and Eric Shutt of The Interfaith Alliance Foundation

"What makes us special and different from other countries is that our right to decide whether and how to worship is a private matter protected by the Constitution."
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www.firstfreedomfirst.org

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