The Establishment Clause. The establishment clause has generally been interpreted to prohibit 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress, or 2) the preference of one religion over another or the support of a religious idea with no identifiable secular purpose. However, there is a distinct, third line of cases that tracks the development of church autonomy. Legal definition of establishment clause: a clause in the U.S. Constitution forbidding Congress from establishing a state religion. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment – “Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion” – is one of the most misunderstood in the Constitution. The Establishment Clause applies to the federal government as well as state and local governments. The first case in this line is Watson v. This clause prohibits the federal government from establishing an official religion or from favoring one religion over another. The establishment clause allows the government to favor a religion and the free exercise clause stops people from being able to express their beliefs. Died after a long period of neglect: June 30, 2020, Washington, D.C. The framers of the Constitution were familiar with the English “established church”—that is, an official church that received extensive government support, whose leaders were entitled to seats in Parliament, and whose members had legal rights that members of other denominations lacked.The establishment clause prevented the establishment of a national church. The Establishment Clause is found in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.This cause prohibits the federal government from making any law regarding the establishment of, or freedom to practice religion. It does so because the framers of the First Amendment recognized that when the roles of the government and religion are intertwined, the result too often has been bloodshed or oppression. The Establishment Clause is a clause located in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution that prohibits the government from passing any law to "establish" religion. Born: December 15, 1791, Richmond, Virginia. The Establishment Clause issues are quite different where a school district wishes to make its facilities available for use by student or community groups during non-school hours. The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause each have their own line of cases. The establishment clause stops the government from favoring a religion and the free exercise clause stops people from expressing their religious beliefs. The Establishment Clause is survived by its younger twin, the Free Exercise Clause. The establishment clause is the section of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States that reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The establishment clause sets up a line of demarcation between the functions and operations of the institutions of religion and government in our society. The establishment clause.