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The seperation of church and state is implied in the 1st amendment with "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise therof." This means that the state cannot force children to go to a public school or have a state based church. This is to protect everyone's religious views to the extent it does not harm another.
Buses can take kids to parochial and public schools becuase it is in the best interest of the children to have that transportation, but it cannot require a reciting of a prayer.
by K December 14, 2003
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Separation of Church and State is an ideology protecting religious freedom by ensuring government does not interfere to favor or disfavor private religious establishments so long as they practice without violating another's individual rights. The clause also protects from churches and other religious organizations interfering with government practices in an attempt to remove religious freedom so as to favor their beliefs. This clause proposes a metaphorical wall between government and religious establishments, unlike the one-way street idea proposed by fanatical religious theocrats.
Wiccan: You can't limit my freedom to worship in peace. We have separation of Church and State.

Radical Fundamentalist: No you don't! That clause represents a one-way street. Government is not to interfere with churches but churches can control the government and limit the rights of non-believers!

Wiccan: I hear Iran is lovely this time of year.
by Secularist June 19, 2011
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"separation of Church and State" as implied by the Constitution was originally intended to keep the government from dictating and controlling religion. Also, to keep the church from providing political puppets to rule in it's favor. It was never intended to be weilded as a device to eradicate all religous content from every government-sponsored activity.
by Mace October 15, 2003
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In America, the purpose of separation of church and state is to avoid 'excessive entanglement' of the two institutions. An important court ruling on the subject led to the Lemon Test, which holds three conditions on a government's actions: that it must have a legitimate secular purpose, must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion, and must not result in an "excessive entanglement" of the government and religion.
by parody February 18, 2005
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The idea that government shall favor no religion for another or make no law that is bias toward one religion and not another.

What it does not say is that elected officials can not be religious. It says they should make no law that favors religion or display favoritism in a public government institution.

Putting a cross in the back of your office is fine, displaying a statue of the ten commandments in front of a court house is not.
What? Can't buy beer on Sundays in some states, that violates separation of Church and State.

What? "In God We Trust" on coinage, the government is favoring Christianity over other religions. I feel this violates separation of church and state. I shouldn't have to be preached inside of a court house or inside of a school. If I want to hear preaching, I could go to church or temple or a mosque or whatever else their is.
by booser March 19, 2005
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Perhaps the most ignored and misunderstood part of the 1st Amendment, even the whole damn Constitution. This concept derives from the establishment and free exercise clauses of the 1st Amendment.

The government CANNOT give preference to any religion, yet we still have "in God We Trust" on our currency, "One nation under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance, and legal marriage rights are dictated by the Church.

There may be no restrictions on religion.... well almost. Numerous Supreme Court cases have allowed for some restrictions (no polygamy for mormons, no peyote use for some native american religions, and no animal sacrifices for some religions, i guess) but these restrictions are for EVERYONE, not just against a particular group (so it's technically not discrimination).

Essentially, people are free to BELIEVE what they want (even if they aren't allowed to PRACTICE their beliefs in some cases) and people are free FROM religion.
Thank God (Ironic? I think not) that there is such a thing as Separation of Church and State. Imagine being forced to believe a certain way or being punished by law for believing something.

Marriage is both a legal and religious institution. WTF? Don't we have separation of church and state?

Guess what? I believe that a giant spaghetti monster sits on a throne of meatballs and laughs at all of humanity's follies. I can believe what I want.
by AnySensiblePerson September 15, 2009
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