The Freedom Of Religion And Why Is The First Amendment Important

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First Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise 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 religion means that each individual is free to have his/her/their personal options in choosing a religion to follow or not to follow in any religion. That each individual should not be punished because of the religion they follow. That the government should not favor a religion. American founders did not want the government to have religious power, they wanted each individual to be free to choose any religion they choose to follow. So why is the first amendment important?

The Americans have developed restrictions on government in order for individuals to preserve the right to hold religious beliefs. Religious persecution was widely practiced on the Jews, and disagreements of religions would repeatedly flare up into wars. When settlers would arrive in America in the 17th century, the settlers brought with them religious disputes, and even ongoing ones within England. In Massachusetts the Puritans established a government based on their system of beliefs, they imposed it among the European settlers. The citizens were taxed to support the churches, of the government beliefs, and only church members could vote or hold office. The Puritans had little sympathy for any non-established churches among them.

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Any resident that did not support the religion of the government then would be persecuted with fines, beaten, or banished. 1649, the Toleration Act was the only modest step to religious freedom. During the 18th century, the individuals in Virginia agreed to register with courts and obtain licenses that allowed them to practice their faith. Jefferson’s written law foe religious freedom remains a basic statement of Americans. “…. all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion…” Lee v.

Overall, the Court ruled that the Establishment Clause prevents the government from favoring religion, prayers in public schools would not be acceptable. The court did make it clear that now gradation prayers are now considered in the position of the students, both of those who desire prayer and those who do not. Wisconsin v. Yoder involved three Amish parents that rebelled against the Wisconsin law. The Wisconsin law demanded that children needed to go to school until they reached the age of sixteen. The state government believed that educated children grow up to be hard working adults and working adults help states to remain strong. The Wisconsin law interrupted Amish culture. It is very common for Amish children to only go to school through the eighth grade because they spend the rest of their “School days” learning how to be apart of the Amish community.

Wisconsin argued that education was more important because without it, the children would not grow up to be hard working adults to help remain a strong state. Warren E Burger rejected Wisconsin’s argument, he saw that even though Amish children only attended school through the eighth grade, they were trained on farms, and grew up to be hard working adults in the Amish community. 

The Supreme Court decided that the Amish religious freedom was more important than Wisconsin’s interest in requiring additional education past the eighth grade. Interpretation of the First Amendment has now changed because of many cases like such. In situation religion will most likely be chosen over another thing such as school, because of the Freedom of religion being in the Constitution.

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