Freedom of Religion

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Freedom of Religion

Click this link to read what the United Nations says about Religious Freedom!

Article 18 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

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You have two Freedoms
granted by the First Amendment regarding Religion!

The First Amendment contains two clauses about the Freedom of Religion. The first part is known as the Establishment Clause, and the second as the Free Exercise Clause.

The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from passing laws that will establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. The courts have interpreted the establishment clause to accomplish the separation of church and state.

The Free Exercise Clause prohibits the government from interfering with a person’s practice of his or her religion. However, religious actions and rituals can be limited by civil and federal laws.

Religious freedom is an absolute right, and includes the right to practice any religion of one’s choice, or no religion at all, and to do this without government control.

From the 1st Amendment:

 ”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.”

 Legal and public foundation

The United States Constitution addresses the issue of religion in two places: in the First Amendment, and the Article VI prohibition on religious tests as a condition for holding public office. The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” This provision was later expanded to state and local governments, through the Incorporation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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 Colonial precedent

Freedom of religion was first applied as a principle in the founding of the colony of Maryland,also founded by the Catholic Lord Baltimore, in 1634.Fifteen years later (1649), the first enactment of religious liberty, the Maryland Toleration Act, drafted by Lord Baltimore, provided: “No person or persons…shall from henceforth be any waies troubled, molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof.” The Maryland Toleration Act was repealed with the assistance of Protestant assemblymen and a new law barring Catholics from openly practicing their religion was passed. In 1657, Lord Baltimore regained control after making a deal with the colony’s Protestants, and in 1658 the Act was again passed by the colonial assembly. This time, it would last more than thirty years, until 1692, when after Maryland’s Protestant Revolution of 1689, freedom of religion was again rescinded. In addition in 1704, an Act was passed “to prevent the growth of Popery in this Province”, preventing Catholics from holding political office. Full religious toleration would not be restored in Maryland until the American Revolution, when Maryland’s Charles Carroll of Carrollton signed the American Declaration of Independence.

 The First Amendment

In the United States, the religious civil liberties are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

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.

The “Establishment Clause,” stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” is generally read to prohibit the Federal government from establishing a national church (“religion”) or excessively involving itself in religion, particularly to the benefit of one religion over another. Following the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and through the doctrine of incorporation, this restriction is held to be applicable to state governments as well.

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The “Free Exercise Clause” states that Congress cannot “prohibit the free exercise” of religious practices. The Supreme Court of the United States has consistently held, however, that the right to free exercise of religion is not absolute. For example, in the 19th century, some of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints traditionally practiced polygamy, yet in Reynolds v. United States (1879), the Supreme Court upheld the criminal conviction of one of these members under a federal law banning polygamy. The Court reasoned that to do otherwise would set precedent for a full range of religious beliefs including those as extreme as human sacrifice. The Court stated that “Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices.” For example, if one were part of a religion that believed in vampirism, the First Amendment would protect one’s belief in vampirism, but not the practice. Currently, peyote and ayahuasca are allowed by legal precedent if used in a religious ceremony.

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 The Fourteenth Amendment

The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the religious civil rights. Whereas the First Amendment secures the free exercise of religion, section one of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits discrimination, including on the basis of religion, by securing “the equal protection of the laws” for every person:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein 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.

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Religious tests

The affirmation or denial of specific religious beliefs had, in the past, been made into qualifications for public office; however, the United States Constitution states that the inauguration of a President may include an “affirmation” of the faithful execution of his duties rather than an “oath” to that effect — this provision was included in order to respect the religious prerogatives of the Quakers, a Protestant Christian denomination that declines the swearing of oaths. The U.S. Constitution also provides that “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification of any Office or public Trust under the United States.” As of 2007, seven states have language included in their constitutions that requires state office-holders to have particular religious beliefs. These states are Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Some of these beliefs (or oaths) were historically required of jurors and witnesses in court. Even though they are still on the books, these provisions have been rendered unenforceable by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

Religious liberty has not prohibited states or the federal government from prohibiting or regulating certain behaviors; i.e. prostitution, gambling, alcohol and certain drugs, although some libertarians interpret religious freedom to extend to these behaviors. However, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that a right to privacy or a due process right does prevent the government from prohibiting adult access to birth control, pornography, and from outlawing sodomy between consenting adults and early trimester abortions.

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 The “wall of separation”

Thomas Jefferson wrote that the First Amendment erected a “wall of separation between church and state” likely borrowing the language from Roger Williams, founder of the First Baptist Church in America and the Colony of Rhode Island, who used the phrase in his 1644 book, The Bloody Tenent of Persecution. James Madison, often regarded as the “Father of the Bill of Rights”, also often wrote of the “perfect separation”, “line of separation”, “strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States”, and “total separation of the church from the state”. Controversy rages in the United States between those who wish to restrict government involvement with religious institutions and remove religious references from government institutions and property, and those who wish to loosen such prohibitions. Advocates for stronger separation of church and state emphasize the plurality of faiths and non-faiths in the country, and what they see as broad guarantees of the federal Constitution. Their opponents emphasize what they see as the largely Christian heritage and history of the nation (often citing the references to “Nature’s God” and the “Creator” of men in the Declaration of Independence). Some more socially conservative Christian sects, such as the Christian Reconstructionist movement, oppose the concept of a “wall of separation” and prefer a closer relationship between church and state.

Problems also arise in U.S. public schools concerning the teaching and display of religious issues. In various counties, school choice and school vouchers have been put forward as solutions to accommodate variety in beliefs and freedom of religion, by allowing individual school boards to choose between a secular, religious or multi-faith vocation, and allowing parents free choice among these schools. Critics of American voucher programs claim that they take funds away from public schools, and that the amount of funds given by vouchers is not enough to help many middle and working class parents.

U.S. judges often ordered alcoholic defendants to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or face imprisonment. However, in 1999, a federal appeals court ruled this unconstitutional because the A.A. program relies on submission to a “Higher Power”.

Thomas Jefferson also played a large role in the formation of freedom of religion. He created the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which has since been incorporated into the Virginia State Constitution.

 Other statements

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 Unalienable rights

The United States of America was established on foundational principles by the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;

(based on Thomas Jefferson’s draft.)

 Religious institutions

In 1944, a joint committee of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America and the Foreign Missions Conference of North America, formulated a “Statement on Religious Liberty”

“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.”

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 Freedom of religion restoration

Following increasing government involvement in religious matters, Congress passed the 1993 The Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A number of states then passed corresponding acts (e.g., Missouri passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act).

The situation of Native Americans in the United States has been problematic since the initial European colonization of the Americas. Aside from the general issues in the relations between Europeans and Native Americans, there has been a historic suppression of Native American religions as well as some current charges of religious discrimination against Native Americans by the U.S. government, that need to be considered.

With the practice of the Americanization of Native Americans, Native American children were sent to Christian boarding schools where they were forced to worship as Christians and traditional customs were banned. Until the Freedom of Religion Act 1978, “spiritual leaders [of Native Americans] ran the risk of jail sentences of up to 30 years for simply practicing their rituals.” The traditional indigenous Sun Dance was illegal from the 1880s (Canada) or 1904 (USA) to the 1980s.

Continuing charges of religious discrimination have largely centered on the eagle feather law, the use of ceremonial peyote, and the repatriation of Native American human remains and cultural and religious objectsPainted Buffalo Skull

Fort Laramie Treaty, 1868

 ARTICLE I.

From this day forward all war between the parties to this agreement shall for ever cease. The government of the United States desires peace, and its honor is hereby pledged to keep it. The Indians desire peace, and they now pledge their honor to maintain it.

If bad men among the whites, or among other people subject to If bad men among the Indians shall commit a wrong or depredation upon the person or property of nay one, white, black, or Indian, subject to the authority of the United States, and at peace therewith, the Indians herein named solemnly agree that they will, upon proof made to their agent, and notice by him, deliver up the wrongdoer to the United States, to be tried and punished according to its laws, and, in case they willfully refuse so to do, the person injured shall be reimbursed for his loss from the annuities, or other moneys due or to become due to them under this or other treaties made with the United States; and the President, on advising with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, shall prescribe such rules and regulations for ascertaining damages under the provisions of this article as in his judgment may be proper, but no one sustaining loss while violating the provisions of this treaty, or the laws of the United States, shall be reimbursed therefor.

Indiginous Rights

  • 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 the Native 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.

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In the event that your Indigenous spiritual practice is threatened by any organization or individual contact us. Also contact the applicable organizations below if needed. Remember!! you have rights, do not tolerate discrimination and don’t be pushed around!

Religious freedom organizations

Religious Freedom Web Sites

  • America Comments: A Web Magazine
  • First Amendment Cyber-Tribune
  • Liberal Constitutionalists
  • Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
  • The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
  • The Religious Freedom Page
    StudentsThe Singing Stone is not governed by or subject to any political organization or tribal government. As a newly defined denomination of Aboriginal American Spiritual practice, we reserve the right to practice our Religion with the freedom granted to us by the United States Constitution. We are sovereign from all other Indigenous Spiritual groups and individuals in the same way that the Protestant church has amnesty from Catholicism  We are committed to serve the public without discriminating against race, color, religion, or sexual orientation. We refuse to support any group or individual that intends on regulating or restricting the free flowing power of Divinity (or creating the illusion of that)!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
    Terms and Conditions of Use : You browse this site at your own risk, The Singing Stone is not liable for any direct, incidental, consequential, indirect, or punitive damages arising out of your access to or use of this site or any information contained therein. Further, everything on the site is provided to you ‘as is’ without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchant ability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. The information we provide is not intended to be used by persons not involved in bona fied Indigenous traditions. Disclaimer: The information contained on this website has been prepared solely for the purpose of providing information to the visitors of the Site. This information is not intended to be advice on any particular matter.The Site has been carefully compiled by The Singing Stone, but no representation is made or warranty given (either express or implied) as to the completeness or accuracy of the information it contains. The Singing Stone and it’s affiliates’ are not liable for the information on this Site or for consequences of the use of the Site. We will not be liable for any direct or consequential damages arising from the use of the information contained in this Site.The Singing Stone is neither responsible nor liable for the consequences of any information provided as a result of the access to another website or product connected from this Site.No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written prior permission of the publishers.

Religious Rights

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 Religious Rights

 




If you are are experiencing Religious persecution click the links below to learn what to do about it.
  To read about the fair housing act and The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

 Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)

Click here to Read the American Indian Religious Freedom Act !

Click here to read The Universal Declaration of Human Rights!

The Office of International Religious Freedom has the mission of promoting religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy. The office is headed by Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook. We monitor religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, recommend and implement policies in respective regions or countries, and develop programs to promote religious freedom

department_of_state.svgInternational Coalition for Religious Freedom  “is a non-profit, non-sectarian, educational organization dedicated to defending the religious freedom of all, regardless of creed, gender, or ethnic origin.

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice,  created in 1957 by the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The Division enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, religion, familial status and national origin.

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The First Amendment Center, We support the First Amendment and build understanding of its core freedoms through education, information and entertainment.

Religious Tolerance, Ontario consultants on religious tolerance. An awesome site!

American Center for Law and Justice  (ACLJ) and its globally affiliated organizations are committed to ensuring the ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.

American Civil Liberties Union,The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), CHANGING RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS IN A CHANGING WORLD.

CESNUR - center for studies on new religions

First Freedom Center , The mission of the First Freedom Center is to advance the fundamental human rights of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

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The Leadership Conference,

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. 

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, The Research Institute of The ERLC represents an evangelical think tank that includes university and seminary presidents, academic deans, professors, lawyers, doctors, theologians, and other evangelical scholars.

The Freedom Forum On Line, The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, and the rights to assemble and to petition the government.

Liberty Counsel, Restoring the culture by advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family.

People For the American Way, Our America respects diversity, nurtures creativity and combats hatred and bigotry.

 

The Rutherford Institute, Dedicated to the defense of civil liberties and human rights.

Religion Link, All of our writers have years of experience in the field of religion reporting. They are well versed in the many religions and issues that are covered in mainstream media.

USCIRF, is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.

Concerned Women for America, through its Board of Trustees has established Religious Liberty as one of its seven core issues on which we focus our efforts.

Liberty Institute, Unfortunately, religious liberty is under attack — in our churches, in our schools and in the public arena – like never before in American history.

American Religious Freedom, Protecting religious freedom for all Faiths.

Religious Freedom Links

The internet can be an amazing resource for Religious Freedom Links. here are some of our favorites! If you are are experiencing Religious persecution click the links below to learn what to do about it. be sure to read our other posts under the category of  L.A.W.

Click here to Read the American Indian Religious Freedom Act !

Click here to read The Universal Declaration of Human Rights!

The Office of International Religious Freedom has the mission of promoting religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy. The office is headed by Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook. We monitor religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, recommend and implement policies in respective regions or countries, and develop programs to promote religious freedom

department_of_state.svg
International Coalition for Religious Freedom
  “is a non-profit, non-sectarian, educational organization dedicated to defending the religious freedom of all, regardless of creed, gender, or ethnic origin.The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice,  created in 1957 by the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The Division enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, religion, familial status and national origin

The First Amendment Center We support the First Amendment and build understanding of its core freedoms through education, information and entertainment.

Religious Tolerance  Ontario consultants on religious tolerance. An awesome site!

American Center for Law and Justice  (ACLJ) and its globally affiliated organizations are committed to ensuring the ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.

American Civil Liberties Union,The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), CHANGING RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS IN A CHANGING WORLD.

First Freedom Center , The mission of the First Freedom Center is to advance the fundamental human rights of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, The Research Institute of The ERLC represents an evangelical think tank that includes university and seminary presidents, academic deans, professors, lawyers, doctors, theologians, and other evangelical scholars.

Foundation for Religious Freedom, Educating the public as to religious rights.

The Freedom Forum On Line, The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, and the rights to assemble and to petition the government.

Liberty Counsel, Restoring the culture by advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family.

People For the American Way, Our America respects diversity, nurtures creativity and combats hatred and bigotry.

The Rutherford Institute, Dedicated to the defense of civil liberties and human rights.

Religion Link, All of our writers have years of experience in the field of religion reporting. They are well versed in the many religions and issues that are covered in mainstream media

USCIRF, is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.

Concerned Women for America, through its Board of Trustees has established Religious Liberty as one of its seven core issues on which we focus our efforts.

Liberty Institute, Unfortunately, religious liberty is under attack — in our churches, in our schools and in the public arena – like never before in American history.