(DailyVantage.com) – It’s known as the “Lemon test” a three pronged assessment determining whether or not the government is overstepping its bounds regarding church and state separation. The term is derivative of the Supreme Court case from which the guidelines came, Lemon vs. Kurtzman, 1971.
The three criteria are that the religious involvement be secular, does not in any way inhibit or promote any particular religion and does not result in excessive “entanglement” between church and state. Some concerned groups are concerned the latest set of guidelines from the Department of Education (DOE) may be overstepping the bounds of government. The bureaucracy at the DOE claim their guideline report is an updating of information intended to inform schools of what is permissible on their grounds and what is not.
Keisha Russell, who acts counsel for the First Liberty Institute applauds the guidelines in light of the Supreme Court’s recent Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District case where they ruled in favor of a coach who was fired for kneeling in prayer prior to a game. The Court ruled his brief and private personal act was in-fact a protected right. This ruling would seem to set aside the ‘Lemon test’ criteria. Russell while in favor of the new guidelines does have some concerns with some of the language contained as it would seem to still adhere to the ‘Lemon rule’ standard.
She says the issues lies in the gray area that while Lemon vs. Kurtzman was not overturned, the Kennedy ruling would negate much of it. She takes issue with language allowing for schools to remove students who may be praying or fasting as not to “burden” other students. Russell says schools could use that language to justify overstepping their authority in which situations they choose to apply it.
Rachel Laser, CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, praises the guidelines and states public schools must be an open and inclusive environment for every student regardless of religious affiliation.
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