I need to write a paper for my con law class and I'd really love to involve religion in it, my teacher enjoys this type of stuff. I was thinking of doing an overview and opinion type deal about how religion violates the constitution all the time, but the teacher wants me to get verrry specific so it isn't just some boring summary. He suggested to me burning crosses as freedom of speech/expression, I was thinking about not teaching ID/creationism in school but he says that's too broad. I would go with the burning crosses but I don't want to steal his idea.

Long story short, does anyone have any good ideas for a nice 10 page paper?

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I'm working on a similar document at the moment, and I'd filed away some comments on the American situation. Hope this helps:

In Australia, we watch with great concern the position of our fellow freethinkers in America. We wish to state forcefully that Australia must do everything possible to avoid the discrimination against non-believers which exists in that country.

For example:

The Constitutions and Bills of Rights of some American states disqualify non-believers from public office and from testifying in court. Maryland’s Bill of Rights, for example, rules that: "That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God.” Accordingly, the state provides Freedom of Religion, but not of belief (or lack of it). (Wikipedia, undated)

Several state constitutions make the protection of persons from religious discrimination conditional on their acknowledgment of the existence of a deity, making freedom of religion and belief in those states inapplicable to atheists. (Wikipedia, undated)

Several private organizations, the most notable being the Boy Scouts of America, do not allow atheist members. (Wikipedia, undated)

There is also a great deal of anecdotal evidence about discrimination against unbelievers in America. Margaret Downey (2004?) of the Freethought Society of Philadelphia has been documenting cases since 1995. She says, “National atheist and freethought publications frequently report on atheists losing their jobs, facing abusive family situations, being subjected to organized shunning campaigns in their communities, receiving death threats, and the like.”

According to Austin Cline (undated), American atheists are routinely discriminated against by judges deciding child custody cases. He complains that:

“… there is a common assumption that religion — any religion — is necessary for properly raising children and that atheists are incapable of seeing to the religious, moral, and social needs of their own kids. Parents who regularly attend church are given great preference over parents who don’t believe in gods.”

Law Professor, Eugene Volokh (2005) agrees, noting several examples where courts have ruled in this way.

Atheists, says Cline, are also subjected to discrimination in the workplace – despite religious discrimination being illegal.

Wikipedia, “Discrimination Against Atheists” -

Cline, Austin (undated), “Atheist Bigotry”, About.Com -

Volokh, Eugene (2005), “Discrimination Against Atheists”, Volokh Conspiracy Blog -

Downey, Margaret (2004?), "Discrimination Against Atheists: The Facts", from Free Inquiry Magazine, Vol. 24, No. 4 -

I'd also suggest you take a look at the Freedom From Religion Foundation's website: http://www.ffrf.org/

Especially under their legal section.

Hope this helps! Good luck. If you do a good job of it, can you send me a copy? I'll add you as a friend so I can message you my email.
You might also like to take a look at: Lemon vs Kurtzman (1971) -

and Walz vs Tax Commission of the City of NY (1970) -


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