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First Amendment: Freedom of Religion


The First Amendment states that: 'Congress shall make no law ... Declaration of Independence included a provision for religious freedom ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: First Amendment: Freedom of Religion

First Amendment Freedom of Religion
  • The First Amendment states that Congress shall
    make no law
  • respecting an establishment of religion,
  • or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
  • We will look at each of these clauses of the
    First Amendment, the controversy and power
    struggles surrounding them and the way the Courts
    have interpreted and applied them.

Religious Liberty Prior to 1791
  • Colonial Practices
  • Churches supported with taxes
  • Voting rights tied to church membership
  • Required to go to church on Sunday
  • Declaration of Independence included a provision
    for religious freedom
  • Constitution Article IV states that no
    religious test shall ever be required as a
    qualification to any office or public trust under
    the United States.
  • Many believed, however, there was not enough
    protection for religious freedom

Drafting the First Amendment
  • They asked, Should we establish a religion or
  • Thomas Jefferson wrote that there should be a
    wall of separation between church and state.

The Establishment Clause
  • The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment
    guarantees that the government will not create
    and/or support an official state religion.

  • Forbids the government from creating an official
  • Forbids the government from supporting one
    religion over another
  • Forbids the government from supporting religion
    over non-religion

Separationists vs. Accomodationists
How high should the wall between church and state
Accomodationists contend that the state should
not be separate from religion but rather should
accommodate it, without showing preference.
Separationists argue that a high wall should
exist between the church and state.
Lemon v. Kurtzman
  • In 1971, the Court ruled that New York state
    could not use state funds to pay parochial school
    teachers salaries.
  • To be Constitutional the challenged law must
  • Have a secular purpose
  • Neither advance nor inhibit religion
  • Not foster excessive government entanglement with
  • In 1980, this Lemon Test was used to invalidate a
    Kentucky law that required the posting of the Ten
    Commandments in public school classrooms.

The Free Exercise Clause
  • "Congress shall make no law.....prohibiting the
    free exercise thereof (religion)" is designed to
    prevent the government from interfering with the
    practice of religion.
  • This freedom is not absolute. (Belief is
    protected action can be regulated)
  • Several religious practices have been ruled
    unconstitutional including
  • Denying medical treatment to a child
  • use of illegal drugs
  • Polygamy
  • Nonetheless, the Court has made it clear that the
    government must remain NEUTRAL toward religion.