Separation of Church and State

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations has, throughout its history, steadfastly maintained the principle of separation of church and state, believing that the First Amendment to the Constitution is the bulwark of religious freedom and interfaith amity.

In recent months the validity of this principle has been seriously challenged by the debate which has evolved about legislation to provide public aid to education, as well as the involvement of religious groups in the federal anti-poverty program. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, together with many like-minded organizations, expressed concern that various provisions of the aid to education law would have the effect of eroding the traditional safeguards of separation of church and state. We have also tried to maintain vigilance to assure that the regulations of the anti-poverty program do not seriously infringe upon the requirements of church-state separation.

In view of the passage of these laws and our general support for the programs of public aid to education and to combat poverty, there have been increasing voices, both within and outside the Jewish community, urging accommodation and compromise of our traditional position of vigorous opposition to the mingling of church and state.

While as citizens, of course, we accept and respect the laws of the land, including those laws which include provisions as to which were and are apprehensive, we reaffirm our long-established position that the principle of separation of church and state is best for both church and state and is indispensable for the preservation of that spirit of religious liberty which is a unique blessing of American democracy. This principle is shared by forward-looking elements of all faiths.