1st Amendment Establishment of Religion Essay

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Jehovah's Witnesses are a good example of a religious entity that claims the right the First Amendment freedom of religion clauses. Jehovah's Witnesses may act as a thorn in many families across America, however, they have been the root cause of much of our freedom of religion laws. Jehovah's Witnesses brought many cases of religion to the court system in the 1930s and 1940s. Before then, the court system handled very few court cases regarding freedom of speech and freedom of religion. These cases formed the foundation of the First Amendment protection of all citizens.

The Court has attempted to create and implement a system for determining church and state decisions. This is accomplished with a three-part test for laws dealing with religious establishment. The determination if the law is constitutional is this: does it have a secular purpose? It should not advance or inhibit religion. Finally, it cannot foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.

The word "religion" means to bind fast. This word comes from the Western Latin word religare. Religion is a sticky subject for many people. For those who want little or nothing to do with it, freedom of religion is important because it allows those individuals to effectively stay out of it. They are protected from being forced to participate within any specific religion and are not punished for choosing not to do so. Those who actively participate in a specific religion are also protected by the freedom of religious Acts, because it allows them to be themselves the same way as non-worshippers, but for the purpose of allowing individuals to uphold, believe and practice whatever religion they choose.

The struggles for religion liberty have been ongoing for centuries. The twentieth century has proven to be an important point in religious history. It was during this time that many changes were made to Governmental laws with regard to freedom of religion. The Government was kept from having anything to do with any religious establishments. Government officials can certainly personally hold whatever religious beliefs they choose, however, they must not use their religion to get ahead in politics and they cannot use their political status to aid or squash religious entities. In the United States, they are also not allowed to have "official" or Governmental religious establishments.

It is important that the United States continues to separate church from State. The entire nation is built on the basis of freedom (freedom of speech, freedom of religion and equal human rights). In treating all humans equally (even in punishment), it is important to recognize that not only do many people have some sort of religion, but not all Americans share in the same belief system. We must recognize the importance of religion without implying that any one individual must believe or follow a specific religion. Even prisoners are allowed to participate in their chosen religion, however, none are forced onto one religion in particular.

Schools and Governmental agencies must stay out of religion. The individuals within these entities may have their own religion personally, but the United States Constitution attempts to separate this by separating church from State. It has been a great struggle for many different religions, persons in power and the general public for the past few centuries. The United States has come a long way in determining the true meaning of equal rights and freedom. It is because of these baby steps throughout history that we're allowed to be ourselves with regard to religion today. Those individuals or groups who choose to take matters into their own hands are not upholding the United States Constitution as it stands today. If an individual or group intends to force religion on a person or persons or their intention is to remove or prevent belief of a specific religion other than their own, they are not upholding the Constitution.

The religious clause is extremely important in separating church from State because it not only prevents discrimination, including discrimination against religion, but it also allows individuals to be themselves and to continue with their religious beliefs, without forcing those beliefs on others. Governments are agencies of great power and it is wise to prevent the Government, Federal and State, from interfering with…

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