2012-09-11

Freedom of Religion

There seems to be some kind of confusion about who has freedom of religion. People do, and the government and governmental institutions do not.

Since corporations are people in some perverted twist of reality that I am not going to research here, they also, presumably, have freedom of religion.

But what does freedom of religion mean? And, that I had to look up.

The first amendment says that the federal government may not establish a national church or favor one religion over another. The fourteenth amendment expands this prohibition to include state governments.

The first amendment also says the government may not outlaw the free exercise of religious practices, however that doesn't mean anything goes just because it's your religion. The freedom to exercise religion is not absolute, the supreme court has said that "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices." This means that the law protects your right to believe in human sacrifice but not your right to perform it.

The sixth article of the constitution says that the government may not ask you to swear a religious oath, or require that you are a member of a particular religion, in order to hold "any office or public trust under the United States". Because states must swear to uphold the constitution this applies to them as well.

I'd like to see the restriction on religious action applied to pharmacists why refuse to sell abortion inducing medications, the day after pills and contraception. You shouldn't be able to refuse to do your job in a way that harms others simply because doing your job is contrary to your religious beliefs.

Wikipedia: No Religious Test Clause

Wikipedia: Freedom of Religion in the United States

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