Author: Amanda

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

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There is a saying in the Bible, “Be not deceived: God is not mocked.” In the world’s oldest and most famous democracy, the U.S.A., we are tempted to be a little too quick to laugh at a person of faith.

The nation has had its share of religious freedom violations: the forcible conversion to Catholicism, the destruction of the Ten Commandments in a state park, and even recent assaults on the American flag and flag-inspired artwork.

In the wake of these and other incidents, religious beliefs and actions are often portrayed as simply “free speech” issues (which, as we shall see, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to endorse). Yet it would be foolish to neglect or miss the larger point: the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution mandates the right to freely exercise one’s faith in the public square.

The first sentence of the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It is a clear and unambiguous statement of the founding principle that the government’s role is to protect and not foster religion, period.

That is a standard that has been well defined since the Magna Carta in 1215, and which has been supported consistently by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” and was interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 to apply to citizens only.

The Fourth Amendment addresses the federal government’s power to stop a citizen from shooting a firearm inside a home. In District of Columbia v. Heller, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that “[t]he most stringent test of reasonableness that we could apply to a claim like this would ask what the government is doing in the home, and whether it has some significant connection to crime.”

In United States v. Cruikshank, the Supreme Court held that the government cannot arrest an individual for the purpose of coercing him or her into subscribing to a religious belief

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