In an ongoing series of occasional reports, "Religion and the Courts: The Pillars of Church-State Law," the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life explores the complex, fluid relationship between government and religion. Among the issues to be examined are religion in public schools, displays of religious symbols on public property, conflicts concerning the free exercise of religion, and government funding of faith-based organizations.
LEGAL REPORT March 2011Churches in Court: The Legal Status of Religious Organizations in Civil Lawsuits
Whenever churches or religious organizations find themselves involved in civil litigation, courts first must determine whether the First Amendment’s religion clauses bestow a unique legal status on religious organizations that puts some of their decisions and actions beyond the reach of civil laws.
LEGAL REPORT October 2007A Delicate Balance: The Free Exercise Clause and the Supreme Court
When Americans speak of their most cherished liberties, freedom of worship often tops the list. But this freedom is not absolute. Indeed, throughout most of the nation's history, religious practices have often been subordinated to a variety of government laws and regulations.
LEGAL REPORT June 2007Religious Displays and the Courts
Each year as the winter holidays approach, Americans across the country debate the appropriateness of the government sponsoring, or even permitting, the display of Christmas nativity scenes, Hanukkah menorahs and other religious holiday symbols on public property.
LEGAL REPORT May 2007Religion in the Public Schools
Nearly a half-century after the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling striking down school-sponsored prayer, Americans continue to fight over the place of religion in public schools.