Ambivalence and Attitudes toward Church-State Relations

  • Ted G. Jelen


In the early twenty-first century, relations between church and state have taken center stage in American politics. In late 2003, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was forced to step down from the state bench for his persistent refusal to remove a monument depicting the Ten Commandments from a courthouse in Montgomery (Washington Post 2003). In June of 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case regarding the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The latter case involved an appeal from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had ruled that using the phrase in public schools violated the “no religious establishment” clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Henderson 2004). Similarly, in the case of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the Supreme Court ruled that when state governments provide tuition vouchers to the parents of children who attend private schools, their actions do not violate the Establishment Clause, despite the fact that a large majority of private schools are sectarian in nature. The Zelman case represents the continuation of an ongoing controversy concerning the proper role of government in religious and public education at the primary and secondary levels.


Cognitive Dissonance Church Attendance Religious Establishment Government Protection Free Exercise 
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© Stephen C. Craig and Michael D. Martinez 2005

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  • Ted G. Jelen

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