Workbook Chapter 9

Workbook Chapter 9 - Workbook Chapter 9 A"Wall of...

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Workbook Chapter 9: A “Wall of Separation” What is religion? In order to receive protection under the First Amendment, a belief system must be able to be classified as a religion. Jefferson suggested that belief systems that have withstood the test of time would be considered religion and receive protection. This does not mean that all beliefs are religions. In Reynolds v. U.S. (1879) the question was whether a relatively new religion, Mormonism, would receive protection under the free exercise clause for the practice of polygamy. A few years later the Court would link the definition of religion to a belief in God. Some fifty years later, the Court began to modify its definition, realizing that attempts to define religion by years in existence or belief in God violated the spirit of the First Amendment. In U.S. v. Ballard (1944) The Court created a presumption that any belief system is a religion if the followers thought of it as a religion. The Court determined that religion could not be defined by the truth of the beliefs because religion by its very nature relies on faith, not proof. Thus even a single individual who makes up a religion can receive protection as long as the beliefs are sincerely held and based on some set of guidelines or principles. This presumption has led the Court to look primarily for: Instances of shams. Claims of religious practice in order to break the law. Avoid a governmental obligation, like the draft. Today, religions as varied as Wicca, Santeria , Paganism, Satanism and Scientology all receive protection under the First Amendment. Free Exercise: Free exercise is not completely free. First, there may be other constitutional rights that supersede free exercise, such as the government’s interest in protecting public safety by imprisoning convicted criminals. For example, the government is within its rights to prevent a prisoner from taking a yearly pilgrimage. For public health reasons the government has been allowed to require smallpox vaccines
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This note was uploaded on 08/08/2008 for the course PSCI 1050 taught by Professor Johnson during the Summer '07 term at North Texas.

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Workbook Chapter 9 - Workbook Chapter 9 A"Wall of...

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