Some of the fundamental freedoms enjoyed by every citizen are contained in the First and Second Amendment of the Constitution. The freedom of religion is afforded by the First Amendment which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (Find Law for Legal Professionals, 2008).
The underlying provision draws the line between the government and the church. In many cases decided by the Supreme Court, the provision was interpreted to mean that the government cannot choose one religious sect to be the official religion of the state. Neither can it monitor or regulate religion and religious activities. Doing such would likely create hatred, disrespect, and even scorn to religions which are favoured. In addition, the government cannot also restrain one from practicing his or her chosen religion because it would be deprivation of freedom.
While government are banned from participating from any religious practices, the religions are not also allowed to participate in the conduct of the government (Nuesner, 2003, p. 317). Recently, the issue on religion had been on the Constitutionality of voucher system used in schools. Many argue it to be a violation of Establishment clause because it is being used in schools connected with a sect or religion (Walsh et. al. , 2005, p. 44). They argue that the public money is being spent to support religion instead of being utilized by the public.
However, the system is still being used because it has been recognized that the students or their parents have the right to choose to which school they wish to utilize their vouchers. In effect, the benefit is still enjoyed by the students and not the sectarian schools. The constitutionality of the voucher system was further upheld in the case of Zelman v. Simmons- Harris (536 U. S. 639). In the said case, students of Cleveland City School District were enjoying a tuition aid in the form of vouchers provided by Ohio’s Pilot Project Scholarship Program (536 U. S. 639).
Some students enrolled in public and private and may either be religious and non-religious schools are participants. This was challenged by taxpayers of Ohio pointing out that the program defeats the purpose of the Establishment Clause (536 U. S. 639). In deciding the case, the Supreme Court said that it was not on the ground that the educational programs granted to individual students reaches the religious institution by way of deliberate choice of the students (536 U. S. 639). Moreover, the choice of the students as to where to utilize their benefits are purely private.