Final Exam - Anne Flinchum Political Science 470 Section...

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Anne Flinchum Political Science 470 Section 303 Final Examination #1 The First Amendment of the United States’ Constitution contains the religion clauses of disestablishment, which means the government cannot establish a national religion, and the free exercise of religion. There are two competing arguments surrounding these clauses. The first is that freedom of religion is furthered by these two clauses. The opposite argument is that the two clauses are in tension and that the disestablishment clause hinders the potentially protected freedoms of the free exercise clause. The disestablishment clause, in my opinion, is something that is strongly supported by secularists (those who emphasize a non-religious focus). And, by contrast, those who support the free exercise clause are usually religious or strongly support the freedom of religion. The controversy between matters like prayer in school or the public posting of the Ten Commandments are something that secularists and free exercise supporters often disagree on. It is my belief that the disestablishment clause hinders Americans’ right to free exercise of religion because the viewpoints behind each clause so strongly oppose each other. First of all, the reason why any case is brought to the Supreme Court is because someone feels as if their rights have been violated. There are many cases on both sides of the religious clause debate. Some feel that religious actions violate their right to not believe (usually secularists), while others feel that actions by the state or state actors violates their right to the freedom of religion (usually those who are religious). An example of a case dealing with this issue is Locke v. Davey . In this case, there was a college scholarship given to Davey, but after he declared a religious major, the scholarship was taken away. The Washington constitution prohibits the funding of religious instruction, which is an example of disestablishment, but the
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question is whether the revocation of his scholarship is a violation of Davey’s First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. The Court ruled in favor of the state and said that the Washington statute did not violate the First Amendment because “the State has merely chosen not to fund a distinct category of instruction” (Choper & Shiffrin, p. 666). The Court also says, “there are some state actions permitted by the Establishment Clause but not required by the Free Exercise Clause” (Choper & Shiffrin, p. 666). Here, I think, it is plain to see that the court’s conscious effort of disestablishment hinders Davey’s right of free exercise. If he earned the scholarship due to his talent, he should receive it, regardless if he wants to pursue a religious major or not. Another case showing this tension is
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Final Exam - Anne Flinchum Political Science 470 Section...

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