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Establishment Clause Analysis

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In order to understand the Lemon Test, it is first important to understand what the Establishment Clause is. According to the Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute, the Establishment Clause is as follows, “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”. Meaning, that a government run educational institution, is by law required to have a separation of church and state in the a school environment. This includes, but is not limited to: school prayer, moments of silence, bible study, the Pledge of Allegiance, religiously based holiday parties, scientific materials studied, etc (Imber, et. All).
Therefore, the Lemon Test is a three-part assessment tool designed by the government to asses the following practice or policy violations of the Establishment Clause: “a) its purpose is to endorse or disapprove of religion, b) its primary effect is to aid or inhibit religion or, c) it either creates excessive administrative entanglements between church and state
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While typicaly each state requires local schools to offer a course on different topics, the state typically allows for the school boards to write these syllabi. However, sex education is dramatically different. Depending on the state, the approach to sex education differs from abstinence to a more comprehensive approach. In some states, such as Kansas and Arkansas, parents have the right to opt their child out of sex education all together. The Lemon Test comes into play here by ensuring that the content of the course material is not religiously based (Imber, et.
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