Table of Contents
The 5 Basic Freedoms
Freedom of Religion is one of the five basic freedoms laid out in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The other four are – Freedom of Speech, Press, Assembly, and the Right to Petition the Government.
The First Amendment Protects Religious Freedom
Congress cannot either create its own state religion or restrict the free practice of religious beliefs. It is stated in the Free Exercise Clause that all Americans have the right to execute their religious freedom without the paranoia that the government will interfere or persecute them for doing so.
It is a part of America’s origins, since the times of George Washington, to be able to fulfill the desire to seek each one’s personal truth about God and live one’s life according to one’s beliefs. James Madison has described this freedom as an inalienable right. And the USA is one of the nations of the world that protects Freedom of Religion so robustly.
A Freedom Endowed By Our Creator
The Declaration of Independence also respects that these rights to one’s beliefs are gifts from God. The US Constitution and other legal protection available for Americans continues the tradition for the respect of Freedom of Religion in the land.
Live Together In Peace
This religious freedom has permitted both men and women of different faiths to worship in their own churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other structures. It has also allowed them to live in their own homes and design and decorate them with their own religious emblems.
The Freedom of Religion has also allowed them to work in different industries or to conduct business with colleagues who each have their own set of beliefs. It has also allowed them to be educated in schools wherein their neighboring seatmates in the classroom could be Muslim, Christian, Jew, or Buddhist. They could even become close friends.
Any effort to trample upon this freedom to pray, teach and live out one’s belief is not just an insult to human dignity but also on the foundation that gave the USA its very strength.
Religious Freedom Is More Than Just Going to Your Temple
You appreciate the fact that you can visit your place of worship anytime that you wish. But did you know that you don’t even have to go against your core values and beliefs to conform to the government? As long as you don’t conflict with other people’s freedoms with different faiths, you will have no problem.
Who Are the Beneficiaries of Religious Freedom?
Everyone – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus – even atheists and agnostics. Freedom of Religion preserves the diversity of America. Everyone can express and practice their religion without fear of interference and punishment from the government.
The Benefits of Religious Freedom
An estimated 350,000 religion-affiliated organizations operate public service functions such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters, schools, pregnancy resources, unwed mothers and rape victims resources, drug addiction programs, adoption centers, orphanages, and other services that focus on underprivileged people.
These organizations operate on the pretext that they don’t discriminate on serving people with different beliefs. Everyone is welcome as long as they need the specific services of the group.
These organizations serve an estimated 70 million Americans annually and have an estimated value of over $45 billion.
What Happens When Religious Freedom Is Restricted?
Americans are not granted access to jobs owned by people with different faiths. Organizations will not provide social services to people with opposing religious beliefs but have a desperate need for their services. There will be mayhem and a lot of misery.
Religious freedom restrictions also harm other civil liberties like free association, free speech, and economic freedom. Schools with core beliefs concerning issues like marriage, family, sexuality, and contraceptives are forced to compromise and discourage them from serving their communities with the usual passion.
The US Supreme Court has even affirmed that the government cannot compel faith-based organizations, colleges, and universities to purchase abortion-inducing drugs if they violate their sense of morality.
Are Religious Freedom Protections Only Enjoyed By Individuals?
Religious freedom applies to both individuals and organizations (which includes businesses and charities). When people with their own personal beliefs combine resources and create businesses, associations, and charities, the organization they form is now a “legal person.” They don’t have to give up their rights or beliefs when they operate a business or an association.
Does the Changing of Laws and Opinion Force A Faith To Conform?
No. The government cannot engage in the business of regulating religious policy or ideas. One basic anchor of many faiths is that their truth is eternal and will never change. If the government were to mandate new religious practices, this would go against the freedom of conscience, making the USA structurally strong.
Again, the US Supreme Court had affirmed this hands-off policy when they disapproved the idea that any official, whether of a high position or low rank, can compel any citizen to prescribe to any orthodox belief in politics, religion, nationalism, or other matters that need an opinion.
The US Supreme Court also says these officials cannot force citizens to confess by word or act their beliefs.
Under the Cover Of Religion, Can People Do Whatever They Want?
No. The government can restrict Freedom of Religion if necessary to promote justice and promote the common good and maintain peace and order. This will test the government’s ability to know its limits when restricting religious freedoms when it is already risking people’s lives and health. One example is when a man physically abuses his family. Freedom of religion will not protect him even if he claims that his faith made him do his deeds.
The Religious Majority Can’t Dictate To Anyone.
What is also beautiful about Freedom of Religion is that it prevents the religious majority from benefitting from the state’s power to impose their will on religious minorities. It prevents the government and that religion from becoming so powerful that they will dictate how other people will think and act.