Justice Blackmun's Concurrence
JUSTICE BLACKMUN, with whom JUSTICE STEVENS and JUSTICE O'CONNOR join, concurring:
Nearly half a century of review and refinement of Establishment Clause jurisprudence has distilled one clear understanding: Government may neither promote nor affiliate itself with any religious doctrine or organization, nor may it obtrude itself in the internal affairs of any religious institution. The application of these principles to the present case mandates the decision reached today by the Court. ...
... Although our precedents make clear that proof of government coercion is not necessary to prove an Establishment Clause violation, it is sufficient. Government pressure to participate in a religious activity is an obvious indication that the government is endorsing or promoting religion.
But it is not enough that the government restrain from compelling religious practices: It must not engage in them either. ...
There is no doubt that attempts to aid religion through government coercion jeopardize freedom of conscience. Even subtle pressure diminishes the right of each individual to choose voluntarily what to believe. ...
When the government arrogates to itself a role in religious affairs, it abandons its obligation as guarantor of democracy. Democracy requires the nourishment of dialogue and dissent, while religious faith puts its trust in an ultimate divine authority above all human deliberation. When the government appropriates religious truth, it "transforms rational debate into theological decree.'' ...
... We have believed that religious freedom cannot exist in the
absence of a free democratic government, and that such a government
cannot endure when there is fusion between religion and the political
regime. We have believed that religious freedom cannot thrive in the
absence of a vibrant religious community and that such a community
cannot prosper when it is bound to the secular. And we have believed
that these were the animating principles behind the adoption of the
Establishment Clause. To that end, our cases have prohibited government
endorsement of religion, its sponsorship, and active involvement in
religion, whether or not citizens were coerced to conform.
Vol. 11, Issue 40, Page 43Published in Print: August 5, 1992, as Justice Blackmun's Concurrence