The United States Supreme Court is surely guilty of making the matter of religion and the First Amendment harder than it ought to be. But it is others who have kept the debate over church/state relations either poisoned with culture-war rhetoric or so shrouded in mystery that seemingly only experts can untangle the juris-prudential snarls. By surrounding this venerable Amendment with a pseudocomplexity concerning the matter of religion these disinformation specialists create confusion, and confusion begets opportunities for further distortion and manipulation. Disagreements over the free exercise of religion and the no-establishment thereof are far simpler to resolve than these spin-doctors make them out to be. Bringing clarity to the juridicial settlement, both in the proper ordering of church/state relations and in the protection of individual religious conscience, is best begun by first bringing to mind foundational principles.
Carl H. Esbeck, Religion and the First Amendment: Some Causes of the Recent Confusion, 42 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 883 (2001)