The Freedom of Religion guaranteed in the First Amendment
The freedom of religion guaranteed in the first Amendment has in many occasions drawn a lot of controversy with varied definition and interpretations regarding the line of separation of the sate and religion. The freedom of religion is actually represented in two clauses, the establishment clause and the free exercise clause.
Basically, the establishment clause prevents the government (congress), from enacting laws that would call for an establishment of an official religion or favoring one religion over another (Cornell University Law School, 2010). The clause is usually interpreted as calling for the separation of “the state and the church” (Cornell University Law School, 2010). In other words, the religion should be free from any government interference. Religion here refers to religious setting such as Christianity and Islam or various denominations therein. The government should hold equal respects to all religions. The clause also prohibits the government from favoring religious activities over non- religious activities or non-religious activities over religious activities. Even religious monuments have since been banned, and cities can no longer erect them, with debate still heating up on whether to remove the already build religious monuments.
On the other hand, the free exercise clause basically prevents the government from meddling in individual’s religion practices (Cornell University Law School, 2010). By the interpretation of this clause, every individual has the right to practice whichever religious activities he or she deems right. That is, the right of choice of religion. One should not be discriminated as a result of being affiliated to a particular religious practice. Indeed, it is a requirement that religious affiliations should not be used as a criterion when carrying activities such as employment or admissions to schools.
Cornell University Law School. (2010). Establishment Clause. Retrieved July 6, 2010, from http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/establishment_clause
Cornell University Law School. (2010). First Amendment. Retrieved July 6, 2010, from http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/First_amendment