Constitutionality – The Establishment clause; Atheism discussed.
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.
Although some government action implicating religion is permissible, and indeed unavoidable, it is not clear just how much the Establishment Clause tolerates. In the past, the Supreme Court has permitted religious invocations to open legislative session, government funding of bussing and textbooks for private religious schools, and efforts by school districts to arrange schedules to accommodate students’ extra-curricular religious education programs. The Court has ruled against some overtly religious displays at courthouses, state funding supplementing teacher salaries at religious schools, and some overly religious holiday decorations on public land.
One point of contention regarding the Establishment Clause is how to frame government actions that implicate religion. Framing questions often arise in the context of permanent religious monuments on public land. Although it is reasonably clear that cities cannot install new religious monuments, there is fierce debate over whether existing monuments should be removed. When the Supreme Court recently considered this issue in Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 (2005), and McCreary County v. ACLU, 545 U.S. 844 (2005), it did not articulate a clear general standard for deciding these types of cases. The Court revisited this issue in Salazar v. Buono (08-472), a case considering the constitutionality of a large white Christian cross erected by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on federal land in the Mojave Desert. While five justices concluded that a federal judge erred in barring a congressionally ordered land transfer which would place the memorial on private land, there was no majority reasoning as to why. Three Justices held that the goal of avoiding governmental endorsement of religion does not require the destruction of religious symbols in the private realm, while Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas concluded that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring this complaint.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
Contained in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, this clause prohibits the government from establishing an official religion. It also prohibits the government from preferring one religion over another, preferring religion over nonreligion, or vice versa.
http://topics.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment (Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute)
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:27 pm
The separation of church and state -
Mt Soledad Cross
The establishment clause is rather plain about intent.
Designed to not establish a state religion, and prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.
So why should a memorial, erected by veterans, ”Constitutionality” be put to question merely because it’s on federal land?
We’re not a nation of Atheists, though that fraction of the population is no longer small. Wikipedia, a secular entity, has an article on “Demographics of atheism” which I note had categorized the results:
As such, topics such as the sower and the seed, and tares, were, of course, not addressed, though this excerpt was noteworthy:
The Canadian Ipsos Reid poll released September 12, 2011 entitled “Canadians Split On Whether Religion Does More Harm in the World than Good,” sampled 1,129 Canadian adults and came up 30% who do not believe in a god. Interestingly, the same poll found that 33% of respondents who identified themselves as Catholics and 28% Protestants said they didn’t believe in a god. Italics my emphasis – “X”
This of course, to those who believe, shows the percentage of tares among the above religious groups. Moreover, their numbers seem to be increasing, not just in Canada, but worldwide.
Another excerpt, on the U.S. :
A 2004 BBC poll showed the number of people in the US who don’t believe in a god to be about 9%. A 2008 Gallup poll showed that a smaller 6% of the US population believed that no god or universal spirit exists. The most recent ARIS report, released March 9, 2009, found in 2008, 34.2 million Americans (15.0%) claim no religion, of which 1.6% explicitly describes itself as atheist (0.7%) or agnostic (0.9%), nearly double the previous 2001 ARIS survey figure of 0.9%. The highest occurrence of “nones”, according to the 2008 ARIS report, reside in Vermont, with 34% surveyed. According to a study conducted by Gallup in May 2010, 16% of Americans declared they have no religious affiliation. 
The latest statistics show that a lack of religious identity increased in every US state between 1990 and 2008. However less than 2% of the U.S. population describes itself as atheist.
Hmmm… I still maintain that if we were “80% Christian”, we would NOT be facing the current situation, both in leadership and finance. Remember, Apostacy is among the last of prophecies that must occur before our redemption; it is now widespread.
Our system of government is USELESS without a MORAL public. An amoral public elects amoral leaders…
James McHenry Signer of the Constitution
[P]ublic utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.(Source: Bernard C. Steiner, One Hundred and Ten Years of Bible Society Work in Maryland, 1810-1920 (Maryland Bible Society, 1921), p. 14.)