Wall Between Church and State

Cartoon by John Trever, originally appearing in The Albuquerque Journal

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued two different rulings in two cases about whether displays of the Ten Commandments are allowed on government property. One ruling permitted the display, and the other held that the display violated the separation of church and state. The gist of the two rulings taken together is that context and the intent of displays of the commandments determines their constitutionality. The cases are Van Orden v. Perry (2005) and McCreary County v. ACLU (2005).


Focus Questions:

1. Who do you think is carrying the tablets in the cartoon, and why do you think the artist chose that particular historical figure?

2. Why do you think the artist depicts the wall between church and state as a maze?

3. Based on your observations of the cartoon, do you think the artist is arguing that the wall of separation should be more clearly delineated, is fine as it stands, or reveals no opinion? Why?

4. Why do you think it has been so difficult for the Supreme Court to define a clear cut separation between church and state in its rulings?

Advertisement