Monday, April 17, 2017

Your 1st Amendment Rights, Part 3: Freedom of Religion

To review, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
*Redress means remedy---
redresses (plural noun)

  1. remedy or compensation for a wrong or grievance:
    "those seeking redress for an infringement of public law rights"

Let's look at Freedom of Religion:
Freedom of religion or freedom of belief is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any religion.
What religions are most common in the United States? These are statistics from 2016:

Have you heard the phrase "Separation of church and State"? Did you know that does not actually appear in the United States Constitution?
In fact, according to an article in Forbes Magazine....
"The phrase “separation of church and state” was initially coined by Baptists striving for religious toleration in Virginia, whose official state religion was then Anglican (Episcopalian). Baptists thought government limitations against religion illegitimate. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson championed their cause."
*Read the whole acticle here:
However, the concept is still ingrained in us: Our government does not have the right to force us to follow any religion. Government and churches are (in theory) viewed as separate entities: How you view religion, or which religion you choose, or if you choose no religion, has no bearing on how our country is run. Our leaders are there to govern only, not to support any religious affiliations.

Did you know that in some countries, their leaders ("Heads of State") are required to follow a particular religion?
  • In most of the Middle East, including Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, leaders must be of the Muslim Religion
  • In Thailand and Butan, leaders must be of the Buddhist faith
  • In Andorra and Lebanon, leaders must be of the Christian faith
Read more about it here:

Other countries known not to have religious freedom include
  • Burma
  • China-their country is 'officially' atheist
  • Iran-punishment for anything considered offensive to the Muslim faith, is severe
  • North Korea-also 'officially' atheist
  • Saudi Arabia, where their written constitution is used along with the Quran, their holy book.

In this map, why do you think the U.S. is rated 'moderate' for its religious restrictions? It may be related to reactions following a religious-based crime. For example, if someone of a particular faith committed an act of violence, citing his or her religion as the basis for it, then others of that faith might be harassed or restricted in some way afterwards, even though they did not participate in the crime.

Do you practice any religion? Is it the same as your parents, or your grandparents? Has that religion changed over time and become more tolerant or more permissive, or not? Why is religion important to you?

Regardless of your religious preferences, you can thank the 1st Amendment for your right to have them.

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