Religious Liberty of the First Amendment


Amendment I reads  

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.

Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights.

A Patriot friend, Hugh Akston, explains that “Most people, because of the way it is written seem to believe that there are only three rights conferred in the First Amendment not six. They group the first two, the third and forth and then then the fifth and six.” What he is saying is people are choosing to ‘not’ separate the Clauses as also separates rights.

Hugh further states, ”The First Amendment is complex as it carries numerous rights to the people.The reason they are grouped together is because they are “Collective Rights” as much as “Individual Rights”.

They are also called First Freedoms:  religious liberty,  freedom of speech and press and assembly and petition. Here they are grouped as if three rights but one can not dismiss the Clauses contained  in the First as not being “separate” rights.

According to Cornell University Legal Information Institute “The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress. Furthermore, the Court has interpreted, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by State governments. [1]

First Amendment rights as interpreted and addressed by the Courts its ruling appear to  to ignore “Natural” and “God-given” across the board. Courts have said, while acknowledging at times “Natural” or “God-given” the rulings include  “not unlimited” in areas to do as you please. Not to act in accordance to one’s conscious.

My Patriot friend says “I disagree, all rights are God given and cannot be restricted by Men”. Yet, not only do the Courts restrict an organized religion, religious sects may decide to restrict the “Natural or God-given” rights of an individual. Collective and common good vs an individuals rights.

The notion of First Amendment rights as it applies in relation to property is a complicated and oft misunderstood principle. Most controversy derives in the sphere of public space, public property and even at times on another’s privately held property.

Cross over to another’s property then one might say you by written contract or knowingly to choose to assemble with a person(s) that you are agreeing in part to abide by their permissible rules.  The rules they set my not be the rules you set on your own property.

Stray from say the fundamental religious beliefs of a specific church teachings, its own rules and its congregational values and one may find themselves being asked to leave the church, excommunicated.  Or in certain religious sects endure shunning. It appears that to stray from one’s Islamic faith good chance it could bring certain death. Those are good examples, one might say,  are in the realm of  the “Theocratic Collective”.

The numerous rulings by  the Courts over years that relate to freedoms,  public property, ownership by the “Collective” of sovereigns, becomes a bone of contention as Courts use the “common good” dictum and ‘compelling interest of government’ in making rulings.


I chose to address specifically Religious Liberty of the First Amendment in this commentary. I did so because I felt that ‘not’ being religious it would provide me a challenge. I sincerely hope for those who are that I have properly addressed issues and while doing so provided some justice with out prejudice in my discussion. I welcome your engagement in discussion and your critical analysis of this commentary.

I apologize that this commentary turned into a thesis. Please do not allow its length from keeping you from reading. Thanks.


Definition of natural rights:  those not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable.

Religious Liberty:

First (Establishment Clause): Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

Second (Free Exercise Clause): Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Liberty Magazine in an article dated July/August 2005, written by Warren L. Johns, titled First Amendment Religious Liberty Guarantees Neutrality, Not Hostility, he points out ‘Benjamin Gitlow’s 1925 day before the United States Supreme Court opened the door to vigorous legal disputes testing First Amendment Religious Liberty guarantees in all jurisdictions. Hardly a church-state activist, Gitlow, an avowed anarchist, unleashed inflammatory rhetoric that pushed the limits of Free Speech under New York state law. The court responded with a ruling that extended the First Amendment guarantees to individual states, courtesy of the due process provisions of the fourteenth Amendment. Since the First Amendment also guards against religious totalitarianism, the court’s Gitlow reasoning crafted the framework for a century of religious liberty tests: flag salutes, prayers, religious symbols on public property, and the restraint of trade, compliments of Sunday blue laws.” Here is a good source for the Gitlow vs New York case. It is an interesting case.

When individuals test the First Amendment, asking for Court interference, the outcome does not guarantee a decision that suits all individuals.

Many would call for strict intent rulings in the “Collective”. Others within civil society are comfortable with “not unlimited”.

It is true that overtime America has changed and clearly is changing with each passing day, like it or not. Interpretation of the Founders intent varies among Justices across decades. Deviation from true intent has occurred most vigorously since about 1925. What we as individuals embrace as “Natural or God-given” rights are rights interpreted, refined if you will, by the Court in relation to the “Collective”. This in effect has the fallout of impinging on the “Individuals Natural or God-given” rights.

Borrowing from the US History website, titled American Government, the Court cases that address freedom of religion have dealt with the rejection of prayer in public schools, the denial of aid to parochial schools, polygamy, the restriction of poisonous snakes and drugs in religious rites, and limiting the right to decline medical care for religious purposes.”

Clearly one may derive from this short list that “prayer in public schools, the denial of aid to parochial schools” have been interpreted as being in the “public” domain therefore government interjects and claims “not unlimited”.

The banning of polygamy (also know as bigamy), the restriction of poisonous snakes and drugs in religious rites is more fuzzy for they are “Individual” and “Collective” rights.

Private property may be said to be also owned by a “Collective” as property belonging to a Church or a commune. This is not then a true “Public Collective”. Yet when asked of the Courts to intervene then we often see the “not unlimited” to do as you please.

Most people within society are appalled at the practice of polygamy (bigamy). It is viewed as as a human rights abuse the world over. A Utah’s court ruling in 2005 said “It is true that Utah’s bigamy statute has an adverse impact on those wishing to practice polygamy as a tenet of their religion,” Justice Jill Parrish wrote for the court in Utah v. Green  “An adverse impact on religion does not by itself, however, prove impermissible targeting because ‘a social harm may have been a legitimate concern of government for reasons quite apart from [religious] discrimination.” The court, said that the law “does not attempt to target only religiously motivated bigamy. Any individual who violates the statute, whether for religious or secular reasons, is subject to prosecution.”

Bigamy is a felony in national law. Yet although being a felony it is estimated that between 50,000 – 100,000 Muslims in the U.S. practice. It seems the law is not enforced across all groups fairly. My intent here as it relates to Religious Liberty of the First Amendment, Free Exercise according to the dictates of one’s own conscious is not a guarantee. The practice, one can make the argument, takes place on ‘private property’ or as in Utah a commune’s private property. The law implies ‘not unlimited’, ‘common good dictum’ and in the ‘compelling interest’ of the government.

Many in society would believe it wrong to deny life saving medical care to a child whose parents, making a decision according to their faith declines intervention. The Religious Liberty of the First Amendment and the Free Exercise Clause, being acknowledged by the Founders as “Natural and God-given” right would seem to cover this example. The right by the parents is interpreted as one of “Individual” to practice their religion according to the dictates of their own conscious. Courts have intervened and ruled as “not an unlimited” right.

In an infamous Oregon case Employment Division vs Smith [12] where two Native Americans were fired and denied Unemployment Compensation because they were found to have peyote in their system, an illegal drug in Oregon ( Native Americans use the drug in their spiritual practices). The case found its way to the Supreme Court.

“The majority opinion was delivered by Justice Scalia. The First Amendment forbids government from prohibiting the “free exercise” of religion. This means, of course, that government may not regulate beliefs as such, either by compelling certain beliefs or forbidding them. Religious belief frequently entails the performance of physical acts—assembling for worship, consumption of bread and wine, abstaining from certain foods or behaviors. Government could no more ban the performance of these physical acts when engaged in for religious reasons than it could ban the religious beliefs that compel those actions in the first place. “It would doubtless be unconstitutional, for example, to ban the casting of statues that are to be used for worship purposes or to prohibit bowing down before a golden calf.”

Scalia further stated, “But Oregon’s ban on the possession of peyote is not a law specifically aimed at a physical act engaged in for a religious reason. Rather, it is a law that applies to everyone [the Collective, my words for emphasis] who might possess peyote, for whatever reason—a “neutral law of general applicability,” in the Court’s phrasing. The Court characterized Smith’s and Black’s argument as an attempt to use their religious motivation to use peyote in order to place themselves beyond the reach of Oregon’s neutral, generally applicable ban on the possession of peyote.” [12]

Justice Blackburn wrote the dissenting opinion. “Blackburn questioned whether Oregon actually did enforce its criminal prohibition on peyote against religious users, noting that it had not actually prosecuted Smith or Black [The two Native Americans]. Because Oregon had not prosecuted any religious users of peyote, its “asserted interest thus amounts only to the symbolic preservation of an unfettered prohibition. But a government interest in symbolism, even symbolism for so worthy a cause as the abolition of unlawful drugs, cannot suffice to abrogate the constitutional rights of individuals.” [12]

The ruling is an example, I think, of Court settling law in the “Collective” impinging as I believe Justice Blackburn was alluding to an “individual’s constitutional rights”. Religious Liberty?

“In The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Congress states in its findings that a religiously neutral law can burden a religion just as much as one that was intended to interfere with religion; therefore the Act states that the “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” The law provided an exception if two conditions are both met. First, the burden must be necessary for the “furtherance of a compelling government interest.” Under strict scrutiny, a government interest is compelling when it is more than routine and does more than simply improve government efficiency. A compelling interest relates directly with core constitutional issues. The second condition is that the rule must be the least restrictive way in which to further the government interest. The law, in conjunction with President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order in 1996, provided more security for sacred sites for Native American religious rites.” [11]

For those interested I provide a source for Alternative Religions: Peyote and the Native American Church

The Free Exercise and Expression Clauses presents a sundry of conflict among members of society. Even when dictate according to one’s conscious is an implied right.

Even those who claim to be Atheist use the First Amendment to support not to be religious as to believe there is no God e.g. Liberty and freedom. as implied in the First, of one’s own conscious. The American Thinker pointed out “the reality is there is an “atheist faith tradition” however to be fair they also say “atheism is not based on faith not on either science or fact.” Given that there is an acknowledgement there exist an “atheist faith tradition” antithetical to religious belief in God for sure, one could say they are “free to express” their tradition. Here religion can be said to be removed from the First Amendment. I will not address this further except to state that the Free Exercise and Expression Clause in the public arena seems to be the burr that sticks in their craw.

My Patriot online friend Hugh , a true man of religious faith, ask me after reading the first draft of this commentary, “Does this give an atheist the right to ignore public prayer and to talk through it?” I certainly believe it is their right to ignore. Hey atheist suck it up and twiddle your thumbs. Talking through it is disrespectful. If done in a tone to shout over the attempt of invocation and use “fighting words” which the government asserts as “unprotected speech”, not covered by Freedom of Speech” then certainly removing the atheist from the venue is legit, looses the right of free assembly.

People of religious faith believe strongly that there does not exist the notion of ‘separation of church and state’ instead invoke the phrase “separation of State and Church”. This is not a “pulling hairs” exercise to many of the faith based community. I tend to agree with the statement by Charles C. Haynes “Most Americans appear to understand that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause separates church from state, but not religion from politics or public life. There is an important constitutional difference between government actions endorsing religion (which the Establishment Clause prohibits) and religious expression by private citizens in the public arena (which the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses protect”. [6]

Therefore the statement “separation of State and Church” is perfectly valid.

Governments role as an interventionist lies in the realm of persecution of one to another, one faiths persecution and dominance, of another faith. Courts role then is to settle law where dissension exist which most often occurs with the Free Exercise and Expression Clauses of the First. Interventions by the Courts to the faithful means NOT altering the right of the Exercise and Expression Clauses of the First Amendment. But it is not a guarantee in the “Collective’ sense.

Many examples abound with regards to peculiar cults of worship. In our new age, out of political correctness, cults are referred to as religions. Some go as far to say that “all” religious practice including the established faiths of the Judeo-Christian faiths are each cult faiths. I have no intention to argue this assertion one way or the other. My point is that the Clauses of the First Amendment, Establishment. Free Exercise and Expression, covers all stripes of religions and cults of religion. Not guaranteed protection in the “Collective’ sense. Impingement on an ‘Individual’s God-given rights’? You be the judge.

The Founders were indeed wise in including Religious Liberty as a first right and keep the national government out of the business of “Establishment”.

The ideal that government is to provide for the “common good” is the single vague reason for all sorts of contentious struggles in society today. When government takes this ideal unto themselves the result has the effect of dissolving “individuals rights” for public “collective rights”.

A good article that I came across dated February 20, 2009 titled, A government that promotes the common good only deserves it, by Steve Robinson gives one a unique perspective on the ’common good dictum’.

Common Good is defined as the benefit or interests of all.  An example of use “it is time our elected officials stood up for the common good”. Yet what is ‘common good’ to some is not “in the interest” of others nor a specific individual.

In the 2013-2014 setting of the Supreme Court the Justices have agreed to take a case, Greece, NY vs Galloway that depending on its ruling could have far reaching implications on the First Amendment. [7]

It was Madison who drafted the language in Article 16 of the Virginia Declaration of Rights insisting that “all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion,” a written, legal guarantee of religious freedom rather than mere toleration by a dominant religion.

Section 16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.

I am of the belief that “forbearance, love, and charity toward each other” can and should be practiced whether one claims to be of faith or not.

Madison did not speak of religious liberty in clichés, although he did speak emphatically from principle. Religious freedom was central to him personally and to his understanding of the United States. He agreed with Thomas Jefferson that a republic without religious freedom was impossible. Religious freedom Madison and Jefferson believed was essential for political freedom and academic freedom. [3]

James Madison also wrote the infamous Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments. Madison stood to oppose the onslaught of Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and others who sought to reimpose a religious tax after the Revolution. “Thomas Jefferson had drafted The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom in 1779 three years after he wrote the Declaration of Independence. The act was not passed by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia until 1786. Jefferson was by then in Paris as the U.S. Ambassador to France.

The Act was resisted by a group headed by Patrick Henry who sought to pass a bill that would have assessed all the citizens of Virginia to support a plural establishment.  James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments was, and remains, a powerful argument against state supported religion. It was written in 1785, just a few months before the General Assembly passed Jefferson’s religious freedom bill.” [4]

In Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments it is clear that Madison was indeed a man of faith. It is also clear that he understood that there was much to fear of designating one religion as having dominion over another. It seems to me then that it would follow no religion could hold dominion over those who profess no religion e.g. “Atheism tradition of no belief in God”. Here the Establishment Clause prohibits the government from declaring a national religion which one could interpret as not forcing a religion of any faith on individuals.

“James Madison had been absolutely aghast at religious persecution in Virginia; he wrote his best friend [Jefferson] in 1774 about the “diabolical Hell conceived principle of persecution” that raged in Virginia, emphatic that “[T]his vexes me the most of any thing whatever.” [3] Here we witness the birth of Freedom of Exercise and as well the Establishment clause e.g. Religious Liberty of the First Amendment.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Letter to the Danbury Baptist who were victims of persecution he said “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties”. [10]

I personally find his use of “wall of separation between Church & State” to be be a clear belief by Jefferson of “separation of church and state”. I am somewhat confused when Jefferson says “convinced he has no “natural right” in opposition to his social duties”.

Jefferson and Madison then, there is no doubt, understood the value, the necessity of Religious Liberty, as a “first right”.

James Madison spoke “to the conundrum of official legislative chaplains “paid out of … taxes.” He asked: “Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, . . . The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority] shut the door of worship agst [against] the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority…They seem to imply and certainly nourish the erronious [erroneous] idea of a national religion. . The idea just as it related … under a theocracy….” [3]

In the above Madison does acknowledge that you cannot “shut the door of worship agst [against] the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority” and follows “they seem to imply and certainly nourish the erronious [erroneous] idea of a national religion. . The idea just as it related … under a theocracy….” As I read this. while acknowledging I could be wrong, Madison’s was saying that those without religious beliefs should not be forced and implied to be persecuted against.

“Madison was always the practical man; he had a solution: Members of Congress, just like their constituents, should pay their ministers; there should be no free ride for politicians. “[L]et them like their Constituents, … [discharge their religious duties] at their own expence [expense]. How small a contribution from each member of Congs wd [Congress would] suffice for the purpose?… How noble in its exemplary sacrifice to the genius of the Constitution; and the divine right of conscience?” Madison was concerned not only with religious freedom, but setting a precedent for politicians’ use of the public purse”. [3]

A fair legal discussion on James Madison and Legislate Chaplains.

George Washington‘s Letter to the Hebrew Congregations of Newport, Rhode Island is small in size, but its impact on American life is immense. In 340 well-chosen words, the Letter reassures those who had fled religious tyranny that life in their new nation would be different, that religious “toleration” would give way to religious liberty, and that the government would not interfere with individuals in matters of conscience and belief. Quoting the Bible’s Old Testament, Washington writes,“every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.” He continues: For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support”. [8]

An interpretation by the Touro Synagogue is as follows “When he [Washington] wrote this particular letter in August of 1790, the new President must have been aware of the effect it would have on the fledgling nation. He could not have known the extent of its influence today. The history behind Washington’s Letter not only gives us an understanding of the values of the early colonists and our Founding Fathers, but also insight into two fundamental tenets of American democracy: the separation of church and state, and the right of individuals to believe in and practice their religion. [8]

The Touro Synagogue further states “The President’s words also helped to define the role of the Federal government in matters of conscience.” [8]

John Locke asserted “A government’s job was to protect life, liberty and, above all, property. When it fails to protect these, it should be replaced.”

Locke’s writings on Political Theory has been read and interrupted by many to varying degrees with different views. Locke’s views were most fully developed in the Second Treatise Concerning Civil Government. Jefferson and Madison especially (and other of the Founding members as well) placed much stock in areas of Locke’s theories.

Locke’s theories are important in discussions of “natural rights” and Civil Government. However that discussion would be lengthy and deserving of a separate discussion in its own right. I will provide some sources available on the Web that would prepare one for commentary, discussion as well as rebuttal comments if a Patriot should choose to take on Locke’s theories.

Locke Sources for starters: Infoplease and Stanford free Encyclopedia: Locke’s Political Philosophy , The Freemans: John Locke: Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property

Locke’s writings did much to inspire the American Revolution and The Open Door Website: John Locke and the “Treatises on Government” contains a good analysis.

My Own Conclusions:

For now the Establishment Clause, mostly, appears to be safe. As reported in this commentary Greece, NY vs Galloway [7] the Free Exercise and Expression Clauses we may see new rulings from the Supreme Court in 2013-2014 session that stand to ‘possibly’ make sweeping changes and as well the Supreme Court could simply reaffirm the Clauses through existing precedent law.

I experience quite a bit of angst these recent years not with the Establishment Clause of Religious Liberty instead the unrest that will surface more and more lies within the Free Exercise and Expression Clauses of the First.

America is changing and with the change in society the expression of one’s religion is under stress. The stress may play out even more as the Judeo-Christian vs Islamic Religion sects heat up.

I feel strongly that people of Judeo-Christian faiths have the right to pray in public and on the flip side I believe I have the right without harassment ‘not’ to engage in prayer. With the caveat of course that I remain respectful of those who do.

I would also fight for my fellow travelers right to Religious Liberty. I am frankly not there for fighting for Islamic Religious Liberty and will never be there for Sharia nor support the possible forming within Muslim communities of roving Religious Police.

I am being brutally honest here. Therefore when I hear my deeply religious friends get in a froth about prayer not being allowed in public schools I can’t help to think “you do not understand what this means in a larger context. In the ‘Collective’ sense of society”.

The Religious Liberty of the first amendment do recall includes other Clauses of the First : Establishment, Free Exercise and Expression. This to me means as in relationship to Free Exercise government should not be able to grant praying in the classroom by one religion over another. If government did then clearly they would be trashing the Establishment Clause of Religious Liberty.

Folks as I said earlier are fond of proclaiming we are a Judeo-Christian nation. Debatable yes, clear cut no and for sure going forward with a world without borders that notion will be made to disappear.

Since Religious Liberty of the First Amendment clearly has the Establishment Clause the government it seems to me has their hands tied in proclaiming we are a Judeo-Christian nation for that can be construed as a form of “establishment” in that it does not include Islamic religions Alternative Religions and no religion.

As I view it all with regards to this subject its a darn mess and possible dangerous one. Many traps exist now and the traps can only proliferate. Those traps lie within the Free Exercise and Free Expression Clauses of the First Amendment like it or not that I think is the truth.

“Under current law, as explained in U.S. Department of Education guidelines, “students may express their beliefs about religion in the form of homework, artwork and other written and oral assignments free of discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.” [9]

Let me take a religious liberty stretch. Hypothetical. What if a child’s religious beliefs having been reared in a basic fundamental Christian home and Church was preached to that Mohammed represented the devil. Seems a reasonable possibility.

So the kid drew a crayoned depiction of Mohammed as a devil and brought the drawing to school or even drew it in art class. Let’s also suppose there are Muslim pupils in the classroom. This could be a big time explosion.

Even though the Department of Education states clearly that a student “may express their beliefs about religion” I can assure you that Johnny’s or little Lucy’s drawing would not be placed on the bulletin board for all to see. Worse the Christian child broke a fundamental rule of Islam to not show a depiction of Mohammed in print. Would the Christian child suffer some form of persecution? Yes I think so. Not only would the persecution be from not allowing her/his drawing to be displayed with others but most likely the pupil would be reprimanded by public school administrators for drawing it in the first place. Suspension? Possibly.

If Muslim children saw the drawing then it is possible Johnny or little Lucy could suffer some form of Fatwa against them.

Is it not a fact that the ‘devil’ is not a part of Christian belief? Yes the devil is. For some faiths the notion is an important tool to drive home the belief in God. Would not the child making the drawing be guilty of discrimination? I think s/he drew in pure innocence.

My point here is it is a dangerous road our nation must now navigate.

Recently I was mulling over the Establishment Clause and it led me to wonder if the New World ever experienced a form of government theocracy. That led me to The Puritans in the 1600’s. The Puritans made up of various religious reformers fled Britain and the Church of England for the New World to establish religious freedom.

I concluded the Massachusetts Bay Colony was Theocratic. If you are interested in reading my commentary, dated, October 13, 2013, titled, Authoritarian Theocratic Government is Not an Answer by pgillenw. This commentary is a perfect example of what can evolve if a self imposed ruling Theocratic government being authoritarian and fiercely religious can place its complete will and control on its inhabitants.

The Puritans passed along to surviving Christian religious faiths, particularly Presbyterians, important ideas of religious faith doctrine.

Hillsdale College has a number of published papers relating to The Puritan’s, see Papers from Hillsdale College. I found the paper by Peter Dassow, Jonathan Edwards: Enlightened Puritan Admixture of Old and New Ideas, interesting. There exist many papers to choose from and would keep one engaged while reading.

I wanted to share another important source for investigating the U.S. Constitution is through the writings of Justice Joseph Story’s Constitutional Writings. Excerpts are available on the Web. Also important to discussions is Joseph Story’s Constitutional writings Volume III, Oath of Office, Religious Tests.



[1] Cornell University Law School, discussions of amendments.

[3] Virginia Foundation of the Humanities, Is James Madison Still Speaking to Us About Religious Freedoms?, by John Ragosta

[5] Northwestern  University Law

[6] Washington Post commentary, First Amendment includes separation of church and state, by Charles C. Hayes, Senior scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum in Washington.

[7] Washington Times, article, dated, Thursday, October 3rd, 2013, Small town, big impact: Supreme Court case could define religion’s role in public

[8] Touro Synagogue, George Washington and his Letter to the Jews of Newport

[9] Washington Post article, dated, September 3rd, American idol: God does belong in public schools, if a student wants him there, by Charles Haynes

[10] Thomas Jefferson’s to the Danbury Baptist, Wall of Separation Letter

[11] Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as written in Wikipedia

[12] Employment Division vs Smith, Wikipedia