Emily Marroquin


Freedom of religion, as assured by the very first Amendment for the usa Constitution, involves two importantcomponents. The first is a prohibition regarding «establishment of religion» by government — the separation of Church and State; and the second, helps to ensure that the federal government allows for the training of faith (Perry, 10). The Amendment checks out: «Congress shall make no legislation respecting an establishment of faith, or prohibiting the free workout thereof» (Constitution). Additionally, the Fourteenth Amendment supports freedom of religion since it includes a provision protecting the rights of an individual from encroachment of state law (Constitution). Numerous crucial court cases throughout US history have actually further assisted to refine the limits of freedom of faith as organized into the Constitution (ACLU).

This paper provides history regarding origins of religious freedom, with a concentrate on the western — specially the United States. Freedom of religion is of unique value into the U.S., as this nation ranks among the first for the «advanced» democracies in spiritual faith and training. Recent research reports have shown 70percent of adult Americans to be users of Christian or Jewish spiritual groups and 95percent to state faith in Jesus (Perry, 3).

Historic Roots

There is certainly proof of concern about the freedom of religion from as soon as 1st Century, A.D. As a Roman convert to Christianity, Tertullian had written,«we give offense to your Romans, even as we are excluded from liberties and privileges of Romans, because we never worship the Gods of Rome» (Tertullian, 25). He contested bad treatment centered on his status as a religious minority. Other people of the period, like Tertullian, additionally promoted religious liberty.

Another historical duration in which spiritual freedom had been delivered to the forefront was at Medieval Europe. Here, within the 13th Century, the historically prominent theologian Thomas Aquinas indicated his views on spiritual freedom. He'd a poor perception about much freedom of faith, especially pertaining to heretics. He promoted religious toleration only because as forcing people to transform might weaken the Church (Aquinas, 55). Some important thinkers of times supported the free exercise of faith, although Medieval Europe did persecute individuals on spiritual grounds, because it permitted the death penalty for blasphemy; heretics were sometimes burned to death (Mullan, 86, 94). It was not merely a period when the imposition of faith concerned some about liberty. Many people also indicated worries about religious pluralism insofar because it had the potential to produce conflict (117). Other people would later on show these exact same fears due to the fact United States came to add people of numerous spiritual backgrounds.

In later years, during the Restoration of European countries, John Locke had been a vocal supporter of spiritual «toleration,» citing it as key to being a true Christian (Locke, 174). Locke promoted toleration within particular limits (excluding atheists, as an example), since did Voltaire among others of his time (Mullan, 187).

These noted values had been important aspects of and history for the establishment of religious freedom in america. The ratification associated with the very first Amendment of this Constitution was finished by 1791 (Constitution). The sun and rain regarding the European motions carried over to the usa, and included toleration for the religious beliefs and practices of other people and security through the imposition of a situation religion (Perry, 14). In addition to the Constitution, other essential papers advertising spiritual freedom will be the «Universal Declaration of Human Rights» while the more recent «Declaration regarding the Elimination of most types of Intolerance and Discrimination centered on Religion or Belief,» adopted by the un in 1981 (38).


Much of the significance of freedom of faith in the usa involves the extent to which a religious teams' methods violate regulations or infringe regarding liberty of others, or in which the federal government infringes on religious liberty. Though spiritual freedom plays an important role into the U.S. as well as other countries, it's still absent in some countries. This can result in dilemmas like conflict between religious teams, preventing individuals from developing spiritual figures, keeping folks from engaging in spiritual techniques, or forcing them in to the spiritual methods of others. Important spiritual freedom problems in the U.S. range from the government's utilization of «religious symbols,» science teaching counter to creationism, school prayer, together with utilization of religious teachings by nonprofit organizations (Perry, 20-2).

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

Freedom of religion ties in to the philanthropic (nonprofit) sector in many ways. Although freedom of faith is fully guaranteed in Constitution, nonprofit companies are not always held strictly to Constitutional or appropriate requirements. Legal requirements affecting freedom of religion as expressed in nonprofits can come into conflict. For instance, the Boy Scouts happen challenged numerously as a Christian guys company that chooses to exclude atheists and gays (Reilly). Additionally, the level that faith-based nonprofit businesses express their spiritual values (especially those getting government financing) has shown to be a location of contention.

Editors Note: the religious businesses in america exist as key the different parts of the Independent Sector. Almost all gifts/donations visit religious companies. Besides, the philosophical basis for many acts of charity and philanthropy are often created in religious tradition.

Ties to Personal Studies

Freedom of religion is tied up into personal Studies in the subjects of American and World History, Government/Civics, and/or Western Civilization. History provides numerous examples of the development of spiritual groups and challenges for their freedom, both within the U.S. and somewhere else. In many cases, the analysis of violent conflict involves religious differences between groups. One example of an organization whoever religious methods attended into conflict utilizing the law, historically, could be the Mormons in america. Such an instance, or other types of the Church and State coming into contact and conflict, may be discussed into the context of Government/Civics. Also, spiritual freedom has played an important role in Western nations, thus rendering it an excellent angle where to approach a program on Western Civilization.

Key Related Areas

Freedom of message, separation of Church and State, spiritual conflict, state religions (internationally).

Essential Individuals Associated With This Topic

Some important people within the history of freedom of faith had been described previously within the «History» section. Crucial figures regarding religious freedom in the us include Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, and Reinhold Niebuhr. Thomas Jefferson is a crucial figure, as a founding father who highly encouraged religious freedom in the us (Mullan, 219). John Stuart Mill had been an English philosopher whom published at any given time later than Jefferson, marketing diversity and enabling the phrase of specific views (244). Reinhold Niebuhr was a 20th Century American ethicist, preaching tolerance of this opinions of other people (281).

Important Related Nonprofit Businesses

An important organization in terms of freedom of faith is one of the primary defenders of this right — the United states Civil Liberties Union. Also the ACLU has had stances restricting spiritual freedoms, while they have sometimes placed other civil rights, such as sexual orientation, above religious liberty.

Other essential broad-based nonprofit groups advertising spiritual freedom are Catholic churches and nonprofit advocacy businesses. To advertise this end, the Catholic Church has produced such documents whilst the 1965 Dignitatis Human Personae, showing a change in views by the Church to greater tolerance of other religions (329). Amnesty Overseas is an international nonprofit striving to safeguard and market peoples rights, including the right of religious freedom.


United States Civil Liberties Union: Freedom System News. NY Occasions Op-Ed Advertisement, April 14, 1998.

Aquinas, Thomas, in Mullan, ed. Religious Pluralism in West: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Constitution for the United States Of America. Britannica On Line. Very first Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, other text.

Lock, John, in Mullan, ed. Spiritual Pluralism into the Western: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Mullan, David George, ed. Spiritual Pluralism into the Western: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Perry, Michael J. Religion in Politics: Constitutional and Moral Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Tertullian, in Mullan, ed. Spiritual Pluralism within the West: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

«War regarding the Boy Scouts: The ACLU's Assault on the Freedom of Association.» by Patrick Reilly. Organizational Trends, December 1998.

Recommended Topics by Grade Level

These topics must certanly be preceded by a discussion associated with the First Amendment or other back ground on the status of spiritual freedom in the United States. Several scenarios come from real cases which have taken place within the U.S. for the restrictions of religious freedoms.

K-Grade 4

  • Should you be designed to have confidence in someone else's faith? Why or why not?
  • Should individuals understand both's religions? Should Christmas time symbols be shown in schools? In public places? Imagine if your spiritual thinking never include Christmas?
  • Should individuals be excused for missing college for spiritual breaks, as schools enable students to miss for xmas?

Grades 5-8

  • Should public college students be made to state the pledge of allegiance (mentioning Jesus) if it is maybe not in line with their religious beliefs?
  • Should public schools (funded by the us government) be allowed to show spiritual concepts?
  • Should public schools have the ability to teach about religion?
  • If some religions treat creation as via God, should public schools have the ability to teach about creation coming about through development?
  • can it be ok for a city to produce a nativity scene on federal government property?

Grades 9-12

  • Could prayer be expected in a public (government funded) school? A minute of silence?
  • if somebody has been sworn into public office, can they need to «swear to believe within the presence of God»?
  • Some faith teams' thinking consist of polygamy (having one or more wife). Should these teams be made to check out U.S. rules which do not enable polygamy?
  • Amish values include kids planning to college only through 8th grade. Should Amish individuals have to adhere to state regulations which may need young ones to attend school through chronilogical age of 16?
  • Some social service businesses like soup kitchens, are religiously-based. Whenever they manage to need those profiting from their assist with be a part of prayer services? If the government offer capital to a company that does this?
  • Should the federal government fund religious colleges?
This paper was created by a student using a Philanthropic Studies program taught within focus on Philanthropy at Indiana University. It is provided byLearning To Giveand the middle on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

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