Restoring Proper Constitutional Protection to Religious Expression

By J. Kenneth Blackwell & Kenneth A. Klukowski
Family Research Council

A situation is unfolding in Florida that is illustrative of how far American culture has listed toward a militantly-secular society that is overtly hostile to expressions of faith and Judeo-Christian traditions. This unfortunate episode is the predictable result of the Supreme Court’s half-century of deviation from the constitutional design for religious liberty, a deviation now reinforced by legal principles that are foundational to the American system of law. Religious liberty must be reinstated by the Supreme Court if society is again to enjoy the benefits of our young people receiving moral instruction.

Although others have written at length about the religious beliefs and practices of the Founding Fathers and the Early Republic, less space has been devoted to understanding how we arrived at the current state of affairs. Such an understanding is a sine qua non to finding a route to remediate our religious freedom jurisprudence and restore proper constitutional protection to religious expression in America.

I. An Unprecedented Outrage in Florida
On September 17, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida considered whether three employees from the Santa Rosa County School District should be imprisoned for praying. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has brought a lawsuit against the school system for various instances where faith-based actions occurred at various school-related events. The school district ill-advisedly signed an agreement with the ACLU in an attempt to end the litigation. The federal judge on the case then issued an order binding both parties to the agreement.

But the wording of the agreement was broad and sweeping, and predictably a couple incidents transpired that became dual focal points of the present controversy.

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