The Christian Right's Threat to the Principle of Separation of Church and State in America
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In order to defend the assertion that the Christian Right poses a threat to the principle of the separation of church and state, this research project will attempt to provide a brief overview of the subject and the parties involved, specifically the Christian Right and the Supreme Court, as well as provide evidence in support of the thesis. In Chapter 2, a brief history of the principle of the separation of church and state will be provided in addition to an explanation for how the principle has become institutionalized in American government. Additionally, Chapter 2 will provide a brief explanation of the major approaches to interpreting the Establishment Clause, although how the Supreme Court has specifically implemented these approaches will be discussed in Chapter 4. Finally, I will argue that this principle must be preserved in the form of a separationist, or at the very least, a neutral approach to interpreting the Establishment Clause. The information provided in Chapter 2 is the product of secondary sources, Court opinions, and an interview with Jan LaRue, Chief Counsel and Director of Legal Studies for Concerned Women for America. After highlighting the need for preserving the principle of separation of Church and State in Chapter 2, Chapter 3 will focus specifically on the Christian Right and the threat that it currently poses to this principle. Chapter 3 also provides a brief history of the Christian Right in addition to an examination of the ties this group has to the Republican Party. As will be discussed in greater detail, the influence the Christian Right is largely a product of the influence this group poses over the Republican Party. Although the Christian Right has not been overwhelmingly successful in implementing its agenda, it does continue to pose a threat to the principle because of its influence over the Republican Party, which has allowed it to have a voice in the nomination and confirmation of the two recently appointed Supreme Court Justices. Similar to Chapter 2, Chapter 3 relies upon secondary sources, including websites for organizations affiliated with the Christian Right, newspapers, and books. In having discussed the need for preserving the principle of separation of church and state and revealing the threat the Christian Right poses to it, Chapter 4 will focus on the role of the Supreme Court in protecting this principle. Although it has historically preserved a wall of separation between church and state, the Court is reducing the strength of this wall by increasingly relying upon an accommodationist interpretation of the Establishment Clause. Chapter 4 argues that the Court must continue to preserve a wall of separation and work towards strengthening it by returning to its former ways of interpreting the Establishment Clause. The data provided in Chapter 4 comes from both secondary sources and Supreme Court cases.