In an ongoing series of occasional reports, “Religion and the Courts: The Pillars of Church-State Law,” the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life explores the complex, fluid relationship between government and religion. Among the issues to be examined are religion in public schools, displays of religious symbols on public property, conflicts concerning the free exercise of religion, and government funding of faith-based organizations.
court_graylabelLEGAL REPORT March 2011
Churches in Court: The Legal Status of Religious Organizations in Civil Lawsuits
Whenever churches or religious organizations find themselves involved in civil litigation, courts first must determine whether the First Amendment’s religion clauses bestow a unique legal status on religious organizations that puts some of their decisions and actions beyond the reach of civil laws.

court_graylabelLEGAL REPORT May 2009
Shifting Boundaries: The Establishment Clause and Government Funding of Religious Schools and Other Faith-Based Organizations
The debate over government funding of religious institutions raises some thorny issues in the discussion about the appropriate relationship between church and state. Most legal scholars agree that the Constitution limits at least some government funding of religion but disagree sharply on exactly what is permissible.

LEGAL REPORT October 2008
A Fluid Boundary: The Free Exercise Clause and the Legislative and Executive Branches
Courts have long grappled with questions of religious freedom, but other government bodies also help ensure protection of this cherished liberty.

balance_graylabelLEGAL REPORT October 2007
A Delicate Balance: The Free Exercise Clause and the Supreme Court
When Americans speak of their most cherished liberties, freedom of worship often tops the list. But this freedom is not absolute. Indeed, throughout most of the nation’s history, religious practices have often been subordinated to a variety of government laws and regulations.

commandments_graylabelLEGAL REPORT June 2007
Religious Displays and the Courts
Each year as the winter holidays approach, Americans across the country debate the appropriateness of the government sponsoring, or even permitting, the display of Christmas nativity scenes, Hanukkah menorahs and other religious holiday symbols on public property.

silence_graylabelLEGAL REPORT May 2007
Religion in the Public Schools
Nearly a half-century after the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling striking down school-sponsored prayer, Americans continue to fight over the place of religion in public schools.