Disestablishment from Blaine to <i>Everson</i>

Thomas C. Berg

in No Establishment of Religion

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199860371
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199950164 | DOI:
Disestablishment from Blaine to Everson

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The Everson v. Board of Education decision raised two important issues: the historical meaning of the establishment clause and the “incorporation” of the Establishment Clause through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This chapter examines the history leading up to Everson’s decision on these two issues and highlights the inherent tension between the “no-funding” argument (that the state should not support religion financially) and the reality of the modern welfare state (where many activities are supported financially by the state such that denying support to religion becomes discriminatory). Although the original rationale behind the Establishment Clause may have been to deny power to the federal government, by the time of the nineteenth century, “no establishment” was widely understood to have an individual liberty component as well. The Blaine amendment and school-funding controversies of the nineteenth century reveal the underlying inconsistences where states provided financial support for public schools that in fact taught a generic Protestantism while simultaneously restricting funding for Catholic schools as an improper aid to religion.

Keywords: Disestablishment; incorporation; Blaine amendment; school-funding controversy; Everson v. Board of Education; welfare state

Chapter.  15649 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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