The Bill of Rights and Religion
Explores the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause, including studies of the Founders’ understanding of both. The unit explores the constitutionality of government action relating to religion as well as the relationship between the government and religious institutions. The unit also investigates instances where “free exercise” and “establishment” might conflict.
The Establishment Clause — How Separate Are Church and State?
The original thirteen states that formed the United States included individuals from a variety of religious traditions. To ensure that the national government respected freedom of belief, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religious practice, the First Amendment prohibited the federal government from either establishing a national church or interfering with existing state religions. Since then the Supreme Court has created various “tests” to determine if government practices violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. This lesson explores the history and principles behind this clause.
Freedom of Religion
The freedom to exercise one's own religious beliefs without interference from the government is essential to the existence of a free society.
Inalienable / Natural Rights
Freedoms which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.
Except where authorized by citizens through the Constitution, the government does not have the authority to limit freedom.