Openness and Understanding. The Examples taken from the American Discussion on Bilateral Relationship between State and Church

The cooperation between government and religious denominations is possible and desirable even in the so called ‘pure separation’ between Church and State in the United States of America. The cases discussed are: Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District (1993), Board of Education of Kiryas Joel School District v. Grumet (1994), Agostini v. Felton (1997), Mitchell v. Helms (2000); Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), and Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. (2007). The opinions of the justices suggest that the United States Supreme Court became open to permissible accommodation of religion which is to be distinguished from impermissible establishment. They seem to be convinced, diff erently than in 1980ties, that interaction between Church and State is inevitable. Not every presence of religion in the public sphere is unconstitutional. It has been established that the government cannot participate in religious indoctrination, discriminate one denomination over another or create an excessive entanglement. In Europe a lay fundamentalism is in attack. It openly struggles with the presence of religion on a public forum, trying to eliminate it from democratic states under the cloak of neutrality or tolerance. The examples taken from the American legal discussion on bilateral relationship between State and Church prove such an attitude unrealistic and disadvantageous for the enlightened society. On the contrary, as Pope Benedict XVI stressed in England last September, religion helps democracy to fi nd the ethical foundation for political choices. And the history demonstrates that democracy without values turns easily into an open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.

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