Freedom of Religion

Freedom of Religion
Establishment and Free Exercise
No Establishing
• Establishment Clause: Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion
(separation of church and state)
• Government cannot:
– Coerce the conscience (not required to say pledge)
– Mandate forms of religious expression (no school
– Discriminate in favor of religion (erased publi
– Ally with churches or other religious organizations
No Impeding (allow Free Exercise)
• The Free Exercise Clause…”or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof..”
• Government cannot:
– Burden the conscience (not have to work on the
– Restrict religious expression (unless it’s criminal)
– Discriminate against a religion (every church is tax
– Invade the autonomy of a church
Landmark Cases
• Engel v. Vitale, 1962- No school prayer
• Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971- Lemon Test- government can do
things if secular (non-religious) purpose, neither advances
or inhibits religion, fosters no entanglement between
church and state
• Widmar v. Vincent, 1981 and Lamb’s Chapel v. Moriches,
1993- church groups must have equal access to public
school facilities that are open to other groups.
• Wisconsin v. Yoder, 1972 Exemption for Amish to
compulsory public school after 8th grade
• Mitchell v. Helms, 2000- equal access to state funded
educational resources to students in private and public
Limits to Free Exercise of Religion
• You cannot violate criminal laws
– Polygamy is against law (Reynolds v. US, 1879)
– Child labor (Prince v. Massachusetts, 1994)
– Drugs (Oregon v. Smith, 1990)
• You cannot endanger the community
– Vaccination- although your church may be opposed to vaccinations,
government won’t allow it in schools- Jacobson v. Massachusetts,
1905 *might be updated
– Poisonous snakes- Although your church practices snake handling,
government won’t allow it (Bunn v. North Carolina, 1949)
• You cannot avoid the draft
– Welsh v. US, 1970- Although Quaker church forbids military service,
government can draft you in an alternative service- like hospital work.