07/05 - Religion and Government | Louisiana Public Square | LPB
  Programs|
Schedules|
play button image Watch|
Services|
Education|
News|
Friends|
Kids|
Shop LPB|
Contact|
About Us|
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Donate Now!!
Louisiana Public Square
LPS Home |
Program Topics |
About the Show |
Be in the Audience |
Submit a Comment |
Links & Resources |
Press Room |
Watch Online |
Get a Copy on DVD |
07/05 - Religion and Government

07/05 - Religion and Government

Are we seeing a fundamental change in the way the courts and the executive branch view long-standing laws and policies?

Rebroadcast of December 2004

This month’s “Louisiana Public Square” deals with the relationship between religion and government. It is a hot button topic, due partly to the recent presidential election, which generated headlines like this one in the Baton Rouge Advocate: “Moral values a top issue at the polls.” What are the moral values that are driving voters today? What is the place of religion in politics? Are we seeing a fundamental change in the way the courts and the executive branch view long-standing laws and policies? The program’s panel of experts consists of ministers representing a wide range of political views.

Panelists:

* Reverend Steve J. Crump, Senior Minister of the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge
* Reverend Gene Mills, Executive Director of the Louisiana Family Forum
* Sr. Judith Brun
* Reverend Charles Smith

Panel Hosts

* Beth Courtney, LPB President
* Charles Zewe, former CNN anchor and reporter

This episode is underwritten by Entergy.

Backgrounder

The first sixteen words in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution deal with the relationship between religion and government:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....”

Some say these words put up a wall of separation between church and state. Others say there should be a line that is flexible, and can be moved as circumstances demand.

Debate over the relationship between religion and government is closely tied to hot button topics such as the involvement of the church in partisan politics, the question of prayer in public schools and the funding of church-related organizations with public monies.

Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, the courts generally tried to fortify the wall of separation. But in recent decisions, the pendulum seems to be moving in the other direction — with one exception. In the area of government speech on religious matters, such as school-sponsored prayer, the law has moved toward increased separation between religion and government.

One decision that will have far-reaching impact is the Cleveland voucher case, decided by the Supreme Court in 2002. For the first time, the law explicitly permits government to spend money for the payment of tuition at religious elementary and secondary schools, even if those schools offer faith-intensive academic programs. The Court’s decision places absolutely no restriction on the use of the tuition funds received by participating schools.

The decision bodes well for President Bush’s faith-based initiative programs, which are funneling billions of dollars a year in social service grants and housing assistance money to religious groups that provide secular services. But groups like the American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] are concerned that there is a danger public funds will be used to support religion, something ACLU lawyers, and others, believe is counter to the first amendment of the US Constitution.

Louisiana has been the site of many cases testing the boundary between church and state:

* 1930: In Cochran v. Louisiana State Board of Education, the Supreme Court the first time allowed indirect aid to religious schools based on the "child benefit" theory.
* 1987: In Edwards v. Aguillard, the Supreme Court found that a state law served a particular religious purpose - it advanced a religious doctrine by providing that a certain subject, evolution, would never be taught unless a religious perspective of that subject [scientific creationism] was presented along with it.
* 2000: In Guy Mitchell, et al., Petitioners v. Mary L. Helms, et al. , the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that taxpayer money may be used to buy computers and other materials for religious and other private schools. The central issue in Mitchell v. Helms and school vouchers is whether taxpayer money can be used by private or religious school students.
* 2001: In Doe v. School Board Of Ouachita Parish , 5th Circuit Court of Appeals declared that a Louisiana law which required local school boards and parishes to permit school authorities to allow students and teachers to observe a "brief time in silent meditation" at the beginning of each school day, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it does not have a secular legislative purpose.
* 2002: In ACLU of Louisiana v. Foster , the United States District Court - Eastern District of Louisiana cited misuse of taxpayer dollars and blocked the state of Louisiana from funding religious activities in the Governor's Program on Abstinence. This case was later settled by the parties.

This listing is not comprehensive. The litigation surrounding the question of religion and government is vast, and reflects the great importance citizens place on this subject.

The political, legal and personal moral questions surrounding the separation of church and state show no signs of waning. And, like all serious discourse about the democratic process, this free and forceful debate is both a test of — and a testament to — the power of America’s great experiment in democracy.

Click here to view the online survey results

Our Panelists:

Join in the conversation! Share your comments on:
Public Square Facebook Public Square on Facebook
Public Square Twitter Public Square on Twitter

Current Topic


     10/18 - Louisiana Veterans Back Home

What are the programs and initiatives helping our veterans successfully transition to civilian life?
Since 2001, 2.6 million service men and women have been deployed to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty-six percent of Louisiana’s veterans fought in these conflicts. The needs for these veterans are plentiful including securing employment and housing, and dealing with the mental rigors of transitioning from military back to civilian life.

Louisiana Public Square explores the unique programs and initiatives that are helping our state’s younger veterans successfully overcome these challenges on “Louisiana Veterans Back Home” Wednesday, October 24 at 7 p.m. on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recording Thursday, October 18.)

Veterans Coming Home is a collaborative, multi-platform public media project between Wisconsin Public Television and Kindling Group in partnership with local stations and other national organizations. Veterans Coming Home is made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Logos of funding providers for Veterans Coming Home


2016 “Louisiana Veterans Coming Home” program. | View Online.


Learn More!
Join in the conversation! Share your comments on:
Public Square Facebook Public Square on Facebook
Public Square Twitter Public Square on Twitter

Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


     11/18 - An Eye on Admissions

How does this affect our students and institutions?

Recent Topics


     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?

     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

     07/18 - Preventing Suicide

How is Louisiana addressing its suicide problem?

     06/18 - Louisiana: Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?  (ENCORE)

Is Louisiana a Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?
»»» View all Topics!
', 'offset="1" »»» View all Topics!
protect my public media About Jobs @ LPB Privacy Policy Public & EEO Reports louisiana.gov LPB Webmail Closed Captions Contact & Address
© 2018 LETA. All Rights Reserved.