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The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion. 

Faith Commons was created to promote the common good through encouraging people of all faiths and none to bring their spiritual identities and convictions to learn about, discuss and respond to issues affecting society and culture together. We have assumed that this can be done in ways that do not undermine the Establishment Clause.

So how should we respond when elected officials bring their faith convictions to bear on civil ceremonies and celebrations? Is it possible to support prayer before sessions of congress and city council meetings, but object when the mayor of Ennis won’t allow women to lead that prayer? And what should we think when the mayor of Dallas issues a proclamation declaring a “Day of Prayer and Fasting to Eradicate Coronavirus“?

Pastor George Mason and Rabbi Nancy Kasten will discuss these questions with Dr. Mark Chancey, Professor of Religious Studies at SMU and distinguished fellow at the REligious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute. 

The conversation will be live streamed on Faith Commons’ Facebook page and on the website.

 

 

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