The phrase "wall of separation between Church and State" comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson replying to the concerns (and congratulations on being elected) of the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Association that religion could be legislated in the various states. Jefferson feels this wall was built by the First Amendment.
Lemon v Kurtzman was a 1971 Supreme Court case looking at whether it was legal for the states of Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to (partially) reimburse private schools for the education of the state's children. It was found that it was not constitutional because the law was only benefiting the Catholic Church and the parochial school system was "an integral part of the religious mission of the Catholic Church." The case law produced the "Lemon Test", which is a 3 prong test of whether or not a religious related act or entity violates the separation of church and state.
The Lemon Test
- Secular Purpose - there needs to be a secular purpose to the act (educating children, feeding the hungry, helping the hurting)
- Primary Effect - is it to advance or inhibit religion. Our textbook example of a violation is requiring spiritual counseling prior to admittance to a shelter. (Which our instructor points out is also "just mean.")
- Excessive Entanglement - this means the government cannot show favoritism to any specific religion.
David Kurtzman represented the government (was the respondent). He had been Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh and worked for David Lawrence (the mayor of Pittsburgh and then Governor of Pennsylvania.) He might have been the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Pennsylvania, but it isn't clear.
Carter v Broadlawns (1989) looked at whether it was constitutional for government entities (a hospital in Iowa - Broadlawns Medical Center) to pay chaplains. Carter refers to 2 people named Carter - Larry Henry Carter and Courtney Carter (a third person Maurice LaBelle also filed suit), all 3 identify as athiests. Applying the Lemon test, the court found secular purpose in supporting the hospital's holistic treatment approach. It was also found that having a professional staff chaplain reduced entanglement because part of the job was to ensure volunteer chaplains were not proselytizing and hospital staff were spending less time supervising volunteer chaplains. (Source: Los Angeles Times 3/27/1989 )