|Freedom of religion|
Legal and public foundation
The First Amendment
The Fourteenth Amendment
|“||All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction there of, are citizens of the United States and of the State where in they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.||”|
The "wall of separation"
- “Religious Liberty shall be interpreted to include freedom to worship according to conscience and to bring up children in the faith of their parents; freedom for the individual to change his religion; freedom to preach, educate, publish and carry on missionary activities; and freedom to organize with others, and to acquire and hold property, for these purposes.”
Freedom of religion restoration
Treaty of Tripoli
Supreme Court rulings
- Had a secular purpose
- Neither advanced nor inhibited religion
- Did not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.
- In Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263 (1981), the Court ruled that a Missouri law prohibiting religious groups from using state university grounds and buildings for religious worship was unconstitutional. As a result, Congress decided in 1984 that this should apply to secondary and primary schools as well, passing the Equal Access Act, which prevents public schools from discriminating against students based on "religious, political, philosophical or other content of the speech at such meetings". In Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 236 (1990), the Court upheld this law when it ruled that a school board's refusal to allow a Christian Bible club to meet in a public high school classroom violated the act.
- In Good News Club v. Milford Central School, 533 U.S. 98 (2001), the Court ruled that religious groups must be allowed to use public schools after hours if the same access is granted to other community groups.
- In Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819 (1995), the Supreme Court found that the University of Virginia was unconstitutionally withholding funds from a religious student magazine.
In office and at work
Requirements for holding a public office
Issues at the workplace
Situation of minority groups
Situation of Catholics
Situations of the Latter Day Saint movement 1820–90
Situation of Native Americans
- The eagle feather law, which governs the possession and religious use of eagle feathers, was written with the intention to protect then dwindling eagle populations on one hand while still protecting traditional Native American spiritual and religious customs, to which the use of eagle feather is central, on the other hand. As a result, the possession of eagle feathers is restricted to ethnic Native Americans, a policy that is seen as controversial for several reasons.
- Peyote, a spineless cactus found in the desert southwest and Mexico, is commonly used in certain traditions of Native American religion and spirituality, most notably in theNative American Church. Prior to the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) in 1978, and as amended in 1994, the religious use of peyote was not afforded legal protection. This resulted in the arrest of many Native Americans and non-Native Americans participating in traditional indigenous religion and spirituality.
- Native Americans often hold strong personal and spiritual connections to their ancestors and often believe that their remains should rest undisturbed. This has often placed Native Americans at odds with archaeologists who have often dug on Native American burial grounds and other sites considered sacred, often removing artifacts and human remains – an act considered sacrilegious by many Native Americans. For years, Native American communities decried the removal of ancestral human remains and cultural and religious objects, charging that such activities are acts of genocide, religious persecution, and discrimination. Many Native Americans called on the government, museums, and private collectors for the return of remains and sensitive objects for reburial. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), which gained passage in 1990, established a means for Native Americans to request the return or "repatriation" of human remains and other sensitive cultural, religious, and funerary items held by federal agencies and federally assisted museums and institutions.
Situation of atheists
- The Eagle Feather Law, which governs the possession and religious use of eagle feathers, was officially written to protect then dwindling eagle populations while still protecting traditional Native American spiritual and religious customs, of which the use of eagles are central. The Eagle Feather Law later met charges of promoting racial and religious discrimination due to the law’s provision authorizing the possession of eagle feathers to members of only one ethnic group, Native Americans, and forbidding Native Americans from including non-Native Americans in indigenous customs involving eagle feathers—a common modern practice dating back to the early 16th century.
- Charges of religious and racial discrimination have also been found in the education system. In a recent example, the dormitory policies at Boston University and TheUniversity of South Dakota were charged with racial and religious discrimination when they forbade a university dormitory resident from smudging while praying. The policy at The University of South Dakota was later changed to permit students to pray while living in the university dorms.
- In 2004, a case involving five Ohio prison inmates (two followers of Asatru (a modern form of Norse paganism), a minister of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, a Wiccanwitch (neopaganism), and a Satanist) protesting denial of access to ceremonial items and opportunities for group worship was brought before the Supreme Court. TheBoston Globe reports on the 2005 decision of Cutter v. Wilkinson in favour of the claimants as a notable case. Among the denied objects was instructions for runic writing requested by an Asatruar. Inmates of the "Intensive Management Unit" at Washington State Penitentiary who are adherents of Asatru in 2001 were deprived of their Thor's Hammer medallions. In 2007, a federal judge confirmed that Asatru adherents in US prisons have the right to possess a Thor’s Hammer pendant. An inmate sued the Virginia Department of Corrections after he was denied it while members of other religions were allowed their medallions.