The Establishment Clause

The Establishment Clause

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment bars the US government from making any law regarding the establishment of religion. Traditionally, the Establishment Clause has been seen as forbidding the government from establishing a national religion as well as prohibiting any preferential treatment of one religion over another. The government is not, however, entirely prohibited from taking action on religious matters, and the extent to which government involvement is permissible has given rise to significant litigation. Questions of the Establishment Clause’s breadth often arise from cases involving religious monuments on public land and government support for religious education. In May of 2014, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case Town of Greece v. Galloway. In that case the Court held that legislative prayer conducted for the purposes of opening monthly board meetings, even nonsectarian prayer, did not violate the Establishment Clause because it was conducted pursuant to the traditions of the United States and did not legally compel those in attendance to observe one particular religion.