U.S. Supreme Court takes aim at separation of church and state

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U.S. Supreme Court takes aim at separation of church and state

By Lawrence Hurley

 and Andrew Chung

4 minute read

Demonstrators gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington
Anti-abortion activists attend the annual "March for Life", in Washington
Anti-abortion activists attend the annual "March for Life", in Washington

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Anti-abortion activists hold a cross in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building during the annual “March for Life” in Washington, U.S., January 21, 2022. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, June 28 (Reuters) – The conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court has chipped away at the wall separating church and state in a series of new rulings, eroding American legal traditions intended to prevent government officials from promoting any particular faith.

In three decisions in the past eight weeks, the court has ruled against government officials whose policies and actions were taken to avoid violating the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition on governmental endorsement of religion – known as the “establishment clause.”

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The court on Monday backed a Washington state public high school football coach who was suspended by a local school district for refusing to stop leading Christian prayers with players on the field after games. read more

On June 21, it endorsed taxpayer money paying for students to attend religious schools under a Maine tuition assistance program in rural areas lacking nearby public high schools. read more

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On May 2, it ruled in favor of a Christian group that sought to fly a flag emblazoned with a cross at Boston city hall under a program aimed at promoting diversity and tolerance among the city’s different communities. read more

The court’s conservative justices, who hold a 6-3 majority, in particular have taken a broad view of religious rights. They also delivered a decision on Friday that was hailed by religious conservatives – overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide – though that case did not involve the establishment clause.

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