Congressional Research Service Reports - Browse

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The Constitutionality of the Withdrawal of All Federal Court Jurisdiction Over Questions Involving State-Sponsored Prayer in Public Schools and Public Buildings
This report discusses several court decisions regarding the constitutionality of the withdrawal of all Federal Court Jurisdiction over questions involving state-sponsored prayer in Public Schools and Public Buildings.
Prayer and Religion in the Public Schools: What Is, and Is Not, Permitted
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School Prayer
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Legal Analysis of President Reagan's Proposed Constitutional Amendment on School Prayer
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Supreme Court: Church-State Cases, October 1983 Term
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The School Prayer Controversy: Pro-Con Arguments
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The School Prayer Controversy: Pro-Con Arguments
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Legislative Prayer and School Prayer: The Constitutional Difference
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Legislative Prayer and School Prayer: The Constitutional Difference
The Supreme Court's decisions holding government-sponsored prayer in the public schools to violate the First Amendment's establishment clause but prayer in legislative assemblies to be constitutional are sometimes lifted up as contradictory. This report summarizes the relevant decisions and identifies the distinctions the Court has drawn between the two situations.
The Law of Church and State: The Proposed Religious Freedom Amendment, H.J. Res. 78
This report summarizes legislative developments on the proposal and briefly analyzes its likely legal effect if added to the Constitution.
The Religious Freedom Amendment: H.J. Res. 78, As Reported by the House Judiciary Committee
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Russia's Religion Law: Assessments and Implications
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Immigration-Related Provisions of Selected Bills on Religious Persecution
This report analyzes immigration-related provisions of H.R. 2431, the “Freedom from Religious Persecution Act,” as passed by the House on May 14, 1998, and S. 1868, the “International Religious Freedom Act,” as introduced in the Senate.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act: Its Rise, Fall, and Current Status
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Religious Persecution Abroad: Congressional Concerns and Actions
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Afghanistan: Connections to Islamic Movements In Central and South Asia and Southern Russia
After several years of relative peace in Central Asia and southern Russia, Islamic extremist movements have become more active in Russia and in Central and South Asia, threatening stability in the region. Although numerous factors might account for the upsurge in activity, several of these movements appear to have connections to the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These linkages raise questions about whether the United States, as part of a broader effort to promote peace and stability in the region, should continue to engage the Taliban regime, or strongly confront it. This report will be updated as events warrant.
The Law of Church and State: Public Aid to Sectarian Schools
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House and Senate Chaplains
This report discusses the two chaplains, one in the House, the other in the Senate, who are the official clergy of Congress. At the beginning of each Congress, the House chaplain is elected for a 2-year term. The Senate chaplain does not have to be reelected at the beginning of a new Congress. There have been 61 Senate chaplains and 59 House chaplains.
Supreme Court: Church-State Cases, 2001-2002 Term
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Supreme Court: Church-State Cases, 2001-2002 Term
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Faith-Based Organizations and Their Relationship with State and Local Governments: Analysis of Recent Initiatives
This report discusses federal, state, and local government funding for faith-based organizations (FBOs) to provide services to needy citizens. It provides an overview of several selected issues including the effectiveness of FBOs, their accountability for results, and the working relationship that FBOs have at various levels of government.
Islam: A Primer
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Campaign Activity by Churches: Legal Analysis of Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, H.R. 235 (108th Congress)
Churches and other Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations can lose their tax-exempt status if they participate in a political campaign. The Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, H.R. 235 (108th Congress) would permit churches to engage in limited types of political campaign activity, in unlimited amounts, without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status. This report provides an overview of current tax and campaign finance law relevant to this legislation, a discussion of how H.R. 235 (108th Congress) would amend current law, and a comparison of H.R. 235 (108th Congress) to H.R. 2357 (107th Congress).
House and Senate Chaplains
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Chaplain of the House: Selection and Related Procedures
House procedures to elect an officer during a Congress differ from those followed at the start of a Congress. A resolution to elect a replacement officer to fill a vacancy during a Congress is privileged and debatable under the hour rule. By statute, the Speaker has authority to appoint a temporary replacement officer, and in some cases, temporary appointments have continued in effect for the remainder of a Congress. This report describes the consultative process that ultimately led to Father Coughlin’s temporary appointment, and related parliamentary issues concerning the selection of House officers.
Terrorists and Suicide Attacks
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Islamic Religious Schools,
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The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya
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Islam: Sunnis and Shiites
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The Constitutionality of Including the Phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance
On October 14, 2003, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the appeal regarding the California statute, and on June 14, 2004, the Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision finding that Newdow lacked standing to challenge the school district’s policy in federal court. This report summarizes the facts of the case, the opinions that have been rendered, congressional action, and the appeal to the Supreme Court. It will be updated as circumstances warrant.
Charitable Choice, Faith-Based Initiatives, and TANF
This report is one in the series of reports that discusses the Charitable Choice Act of 2001 (Title II of the House bill) and its rules, as well as the charitable choice laws, and other areas of this program.
Islamic Religious Schools,
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The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya
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House and Senate Chaplains
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Campaign Activity by Churches: Legal Analysis of Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act
Under current law, churches and other IRC § 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations are prohibited from engaging in such activity and risk losing their tax-exempt status if they do. While this outcome is rare, it is possible. This report provides an overview of the current tax and campaign finance law relevant to this legislation, a discussion of how each bill would amend current law, and a chart that compares the bills.
The Law of Church and State: Selected Opinions of Justice O'Connor
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Islamist Extremism in Europe
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Gonzales vs. Oregon
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Muslims in Europe: Integration Policies in Selected Countries
This report examines the integration of Muslims into the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain. It also analyzes policies at the European Union (EU) level that affect Muslim populations. However, key policies relating to integrating Muslims into society — including citizenship laws, education, treatment of religious institutions, and anti-discrimination measures — largely lie with individual governments.
The Law of Church and State: Opinions of Judge Samuel Alito
This report provides an overview of opinions addressing issues related to the law of church and state written by Judge Alito while serving on the Third Circuit and Supreme Court precedent relevant to those cases.
Islamic Religious Schools, Madrasas: Background
This report provides an overview of madrasas, their role in the Muslim world, and issues related to their alleged links to terrorism. The report also addresses the findings of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the “9/11 Commission”) and issues relevant to the second session of the 109th Congress.
Charitable Choice Rules and Faith-Based Organizations
This report discusses the Bush administration's "Charitable Choice" agenda aimed at expanding the ability of faith-based organizations to provide federally funded social services.
Charitable Choice: Legal and Constitutional Issues
This report provides analysis of a number of factual, civil rights, and constitutional questions that have been raised regarding charitable choice in general. The analysis is generally focused on those provisions enacted as part of the 1996 welfare reform law. More recent charitable choice rules may give rise to the same or similar concerns. Primarily, this report focuses on civil rights concerns that have arisen in the context of charitable choice and First Amendment issues, as well as recent legal developments related to charitable choice.
Palestinian Education and the Debate Over Textbooks
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The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and subsequent discussions of religious extremism have called attention to Islamic puritanical movements known as Wahhabism and Salafiyya. Al Qaeda leaders and their ideological supporters have advocated a violent message that some suggest is an extremist interpretation of this line of puritanical Islam. Other observers have accused Saudi Arabia, the center of Wahhabism, of having disseminated a religion that promotes hatred and violence, targeting the United States and its allies. Saudi officials strenuously deny these allegations. This report provides a background on Wahhabism and its relationship to active terrorist groups; it also summarizes recent charges against Wahhabism and responses, including the findings of the final report of the 9/11 Commission and relevant legislation in the 110th Congress.
Islamic Religious Schools, Madrasas: Background
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Iraq: Reconciliation and Benchmarks
Iraq's current government, the result of a U.S.-supported election process designed to produce democracy, is instead a sectarian government incapable of reconciliation. The Administration says that the passage of some key laws represents progress on national reconciliation, and is a result of the U.S. "troop surge." Others say that combat among Shiite groups since March 2008, possibly motivated by provincial elections planned for October 2008, shows that force will not stabilize Iraq.
Iran's Activities and Influence in Iraq
Iran is materially assisting all major Shiite Muslim political factions in Iraq, most of which have longstanding ideological, political, and religious ties to Tehran, and their armed militias. The Administration notes growing involvement by Tehran in actively directing training, and arming Shiite militiamen linked, to varying degrees, to hardline cleric Moqtada Al Sadr. Some analysis goes so far as to see a virtual "proxy war" between the United States and Iran inside Iraq.
Iraq: Reconciliation and Benchmarks
Iraq's current government, the result of a U.S.-supported election process designed to produce democracy, is instead a sectarian government incapable of reconciliation. The Administration says that the passage of some key laws represents progress on national reconciliation, and is a result of the U.S. "troop surge." Others say that combat among Shiite groups since March 2008, possibly motivated by provincial elections planned for October 2008, shows that force will not stabilize Iraq.
Iran's Activities and Influence in Iraq
Iran is materially assisting and attempting to influence, in most cases against the United States, major Shiite Muslim factions in Iraq, most of which have ideological, political, and religious ties to Tehran. The Administration asserts that Tehran is actively directing, training, and arming Shiite militiamen linked, to varying degrees, to hardline anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada Al Sadr. Some analysts see a virtual "proxy war" between the United States and Iran inside Iraq.