Unit 5 - Lesson 28

How Does the 1st Amendment affect the
Establishment and Free Exercise of
 Most
European nations had “established” or
official religions – it was believed to be a
necessary foundation to a successful gov’t
 The group in power would often attempt to
eliminate others by outlawing their religion
and/or jailing, torturing, or killing those who
believed in a religion other than their own
 People fleeing religious persecution settled in
the colonies
Religious intolerance also in the colonies
People taxed to support state religions
Punished for not attending public worship
Roger Williams (1636) founded a new society based on
freedom of conscience, religious tolerance and separation of
church and state
This phrase refers to a LACK of and established church or the
state supporting one religion over another
This will become the measure of freedom of religion in the US
What it means is still in debate
Diverse religious groups existed within communities
 Government support went to ones they favored
 Catholics, Jews and others often not supported and
frequently were discriminated against
 At the time the Constitution was written, most
believed religion was important and needed
protection, it strengthened both church and state
 “Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof.”
The Establishment Clause prohibits CONGRESS from
establishing a national religion
Some supported because they believed it left to the states the
establishment of religions
As new sects arose, people learned to work together with people
who believed differently than they did
By 1833- no state had an established religion
The controversy still continued
Some states passed laws providing aid to religious organizations or
requiring prayers be said in public schools
1947 – The Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment
extended freedom of religion to the states and must be protected
The “Establishment Clause” therefore limited both STATE and
FEDERAL governments from establishing a religion
Broad Interpretation
Narrow Interpretation
This prevents the gov’t from providing ANY aid to any religion
No tax money to aid activity, practice or institution
But OK to give same as to others (fire, police protection)
Gov’t CAN make it easier to practice religion (school holidays)
This prevents the gov’t from giving preference to any one religion
Does not prohibit support if it does so impartially
“In God We Trust”, non-demoninational prayers
Literal Interpretation
Only prohibits the gov’t from ESTABLISHING a religion
Does not prohibit gov’t from participating in religious practices
Christmas celebrations as schools
 In
4 groups, discuss the case you were given
 Be ready to present and defend your groups
position to the class as a whole
2 parts – Freedom to believe & Freedom to Practice
Freedom to believe: The Supreme Court ruled individuals
have an absolute right to freedom of belief or conscience
No government may interfere with this right by prescribing
religious beliefs
Right to Practice: Not an absolute right
May be limited to protect another’s right
May be limited to protect other important values and interests
? Chaplains for the armed forces or in prisons?
? If public schools excuse Jewish students from attending classes on Yom Kippur is
this giving preference to one over another? If they deny students the right to be
absent, are they prohibiting the free exercise thereof?
? If schools provide meeting places for student religious groups that want to meet
after school, do they violate the establishment clause? If they do not, are they
limiting the student’s rights to free exercise of religion?
The Supreme Court has ruled over and over about religious rights
Balance the health of the community against the religious beliefs of an
individual or group (public health is considered more important = shots)
Health of an individual is seen differently. If an adult chooses to refuse
treatment, based on their religious beliefs, they are allowed to
Right of the student to refuse to salute the flag or attend high school if it
goes against their religious beliefs
Refuse blood transfusion or cancer treatment
Compelling state interest: great enough to justify limiting the individual’s rights
Amish students: not attending local high school due to modern technology (homesch)
The Supreme Court usually asked 2 questions
1. Does the law apply to everyone? (neutral). If it does, it is not
a violation of free exercise clause, even if it hinders practices
2. If it is not neutral, did the gov’t have a compelling reason for
enacting the law? Is it the least restrictive possible?
Smith v. Oregon (1990) – Oregon outlaws use of peyote. It is a
felony offense. The Native American Church uses peyote in religious
ceremonies. A member challenged the law. The Supreme Court
upheld the law, because it was neutral, outlawing the use to
Church of the Lukumi Bablu Aye v. City of Hialeah (1993) –
The city prohibited the slaughter of animals in religious ceremonies.
Animal sacrifice is a central part of the Santeria religion. The Court
ruled that the prohibition violated the 1st Amendment free exercise
clause. It was not a neutral law because it did not outlaw all animal
slaughter. They also ruled the city had not shown a compelling
interest in outlawing this religious practice. Two justices even
believed the law specifically was to target the Santeria religion
 Work
in 3 groups
 Read one situation and answer the questions
 Be prepared to explain and defend your
positions to the class

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