What is happening to Religious Freedom in the United States? This nation was founded on the principles of freedom. The Declaration of Independence was written against the tyranny of Great Britain and the lack of freedoms afforded the colonists. The Revolutionary War was fought for those same ideas, and it was the idea of freedom that drove the young men who fought against the superior British army. The idea of freedom won out, and the United States was born. The founders laid down a Constitution which was based on the idea of freedom for all citizens of the United States. The Bill of Rights was established to ensure that the future generations of Americans would continue to be free. The ideals laid out in the First Amendment to the Constitution are of particular importance, and that is why it is the First Amendment.
The Freedom of Religion in the United States was foremost to the founders, and that is why the importance of separation of Church and State needs to remain at the forefront of American society.
But the Rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the First Amendment have come under attack by those that seek to diminish the freedoms of the American people.
However, those that seek to restrict religious freedom forget that that right applies to all religions and all people. An atheist has the same rights as a fundamentalist Christian. A Muslim has the same rights as a Jewish person. The separation of Church and State allows for unbiased application of laws by any government body – Federal, State, or Local. A government official cannot favor one set of beliefs over another.
The separation of Church and State does not apply to anything other than the laws passed in the United States. A government building that displays a Christian symbol, or the use of “In God We Trust” on currency, or the Pledge of Allegiance using the words “…one Nation under God…”. A government body full of Christians is not violating the religious freedom of anyone when they place a Nativity Scene on their grounds at Christmas. A public school board which prays before their meeting is not violating the religious rights of the one atheist on the board. These are not instances of laws being passed in favor or against a particular belief.
The Rights guaranteed by the Constitution are legal rights, and they apply to everyone. Those people that believe their Rights are being violated have the Right under the First Amendment to exercise their free speech, but unless a law is being passed which violates the Right to the freedom of their beliefs, the Right to freedom of religion (not freedom FROM religion) has not been violated.