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Religion Outline

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This is an extract of our Religion document, which we sell as part of our Constitutional Analysis Outlines collection written by the top tier of Harvard Law School students.

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Religion The Establishment Clause Lemon v. Kurtzman In Lemon, the Court articulated a three-part test for judging Establishment Clause issue: to be sustained, (1) the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; (2) its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) the statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion Corp. of Presiding Bishops v. Amos In Amos, the Court upheld Section 702 of the Civil Rights Act, which exempts religious organizations from Title VII's prohibition against discrimination in employment on the basis of religion, as applied to a worker at a nonprofit gymnasium owned by the LDS Church. The Court concluded that the statute satisfied the Lemon test, neutral on its face, and motivated by a permissible purpose of limiting governmental interference with the exercise of religion. Thus, the Court declined to exercise strict scrutiny. Further, although the plaintiff's freedom of choice in religious matters was impinged upon, it was the Church, not the government, that put him to the choice of changing his religious practices or losing his job. Brennan, J., concurred in the judgment. He acknowledged that "religious organizations have an interest in autonomy in ordering their internal affairs," but argued that "the infringement of religious liberty that results from conditioning performance of secular activity upon religious belief cannot be defended as necessary for the community's self definition." Nonetheless, Brennan argued that a categorical rule allowing discrimination in the area of non-profit religious activities was best, as it was necessary to avoid the "considerable ongoing government entanglement in religious affairs" and the chilling of free exercise that would result from a case-bycase analysis of religious activities. O'Connor, J., also concurred in the judgment. "Judicial deference to all legislation that purports to facilitate the free exercise of religion would completely vitiate the Establishment Clause." In her view, "the necessary first step in evaluating an Establishment Clause challenge to a government action lifting from religious organizations a generally applicable regulatory burden is to recognize that such government action does have the effect of advancing religion. The second necessary step is to separate those benefits to religion that constitutionally accommodate the free exercise of religion from those that provide unjustifiable awards of assistance to religious organizations." In her view, the inquiry framed by Lemon should be "whether government's purpose is to endorse religion and whether the statute actually conveys a message of endorsement. The relevant issue is how it would be perceived by an objective observer..." Lee v. Weisman In Lee, the Court held that a public school's practice of inviting members of the clergy to offer invocation and benediction prayers at graduation ceremonies violated the Establishment Clause. The Court found that the current situation placed objectors "in the dilemma of participating," which would imply acceptance of the message, "or protesting." The Court expressed concern that allowing this practice would "risk compelling conformity" in an environment where the risk of compulsion

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