Let`s talk First Amendment

The 1st Amendment protects your right to believe and practice whatever religious principles you choose and your right to say what you believe, even if it is unpopular or against the will of elected officials.

It also protects your right to publish any information you want, join together with whomever you want and ask the government to correct its own errors.
What exactly does the 1st Amendment mean and how does it apply to people today? Does it have relevance to you today? It sure does. In fact, it affects just about everything you do.
The 1st Amendment has seven clauses. This page has a brief description of each clause with links to more detailed information about the history and purpose of each section.

The Establishment Clause is the part of the 1st Amendment that says Congress shall make no law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This is a very crucial part of the American Constitution. It prohibits the government from establishing a state religion or denomination and from directing people in what they must believe.
Without the Establishment Clause, the government could choose a state religion and force everyone to participate in it. It could also punish anyone who didn’t adhere to its chosen faith.
This clause has been the focus of much debate in the last half century. Some Americans believe that whenever the government is involved, absolutely all religious expression must be forbidden in order to comply with the Establishment Clause.

For example, they might say a public school football team should not pray at a football game because the school is a government funded school.
Other Americans believe the government must make certain allowances for religious expressions in public events and buildings because Americans are a very religious people. They believe a high school football team prayer or a government employee displaying a cross at work does not violate the Establishment Clause because it is simply a personal expression and not an expression endorsed by the state.

The Free Exercise Clause is the part of the 1st Amendment that says Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or “the free exercise thereof.” This phrase deals with the restriction on Congress to regulate anyone’s religious practices.

In general, Congress cannot tell people how they can or cannot express their religious beliefs. Such things as telling people when or how to pray, when they should go to church or to whom they should pray, are off limits to lawmakers.

In general, this is the case, but sometimes, minority religious groups may want to practice something that is not generally accepted or that the state has a very strong interest in regulating. For example, polygamy, ritual sacrifice and drug usage have been banned at times, because there is a compelling public interest in eliminating these behaviors.

In such cases, the Supreme Court has often ruled that the Free Exercise Clause does not apply. In other words, the Free Exercise Clause does not give free license to any

Indeed, in the minds of some, banning expressions of religious faith like this is a violation of another clause of the 1st Amendment – the Free Exercise Clause, because it seeks to control the religious expressions of citizens.

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