Date of Award
Master of Arts
The first part of my study concerns the meaning of "religious freedom" as revealed through the fundamental laws of the Constitutional period. In the course of my research, I have compiled and noted every mention of religion in the State Constitutions and Bills of Rights drafted between 1776 and 1791. I have read the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and the Northwest Ordinance; the Debates in the Constitutional Convention, the State Ratifying Conventions, and the First Congress, and extracted every significant mention of religion. I have not looked behind the words to the actual prac tice, but rather to the words and phrases themselves, seeking different ways in which a similar idea can be expressed, thus clarifying the meaning of that idea. (I am concerned with what people said rather than what they did; the fact that in some instances these pronouncements were honored more in the breach than in the observance does not make them any less valid as criteria of what the people thought the law ought to be.)
The second part of my study concerns the interpretation of the religion clauses of the First Amendment by today's Supreme Court, particularly in rela tion to the schools. I have studied the recent Supreme Court decisions; State laws concerning religion, the public schools and the public purse; public reaction to the Court; Congressional hearings on proposed Constitutional Amendments to "put God back in the schools"; Law Review articles, and much of the now extensive body of literature which disects, analyzes, criticizes, praises, and vilifies the Supreme Court and its precedent-making decision.
Evangelides, Alice Sofis, "Under God? : a study of freedom of religion, the founding fathers, the Supreme Court, and the schools" (1967). Master's Theses. 265.