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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Legal Briefs

Volume 4 . Chapter 11

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." So begins the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The meaning of these words is apparent to even a casual reader: Congress, our national legislature, can neither establish a religion nor prohibit its free exercise. These provisions were incorporated into the Constitution because of the fear that the new federal government would create an established church, as many of the colonies had done.

Since Congress never attempted to establish a church, these constitutional provisions were all but forgotten at the beginning of the twentieth century. Prayers, Bible readings, and religious instruction in the public schools; rental ...

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