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first amendment rights argument essay

Argumentative Essay: The First Amendment In Public Schools

Engel v. vitale case study.

The majority stated that the provision allowing students to absent themselves from this activity did not make the law constitutional because the purpose of the First Amendment was to prevent government interference with religion. The majority noted that religion is very important to a vast majority of the American people. Since Americans adhere to a wide variety of beliefs, it is not appropriate for the government to endorse any particular belief system. The majority noted that wars, persecutions, and other destructive measures often arose in the past when the government involved itself in religious affairs.

Engel V Vitale

On June 25, 1962, a Supreme Court case, Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421, was decided. The lawsuit was brought to the United States Supreme Court by parents (of students who attended schools in the Herricks School District) who complained that a nondenominational prayer instituted by the New York Board of Regents in their district was unconstitutional. The parents argued that the prayer, although optional, violated their First Amendment Rights. When the 6-1 (two justices did not vote) decision was made, it was ruled that voluntary prayer in public schools violates the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. One concurring opinion was given, and the single judge that did not vote the same as the rest provided

Mandatory Pledge Of Allegiance

America is often referred to as the “melting pot” because it was built on many different nationalities. For centuries it has been common place that school students stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance before beginning classes. In the past, the courts have been challenged to rule whether students are required to recite, stand during the pledge, or can remain quietly seated. This has become a monumental task for the courts to rule in favor or against these actions due to the various beliefs and traditions of the school population. Due to the controversy, students in schools should not be required to recite or stand during the Pledge of Allegiance because the act itself denies students the right to exercise their First Amendment rights to

Bethel School Argumentative Essay

The Bethel School District had suspended the respondent, Matthew N. Fraser for the span of three school days as well as the school decided to revoke his name from a roster of potential speaking at special ceremonies such as graduation. The respondent’s parent reciprocated action by bringing their child’s infraction of his first Amendment right. This includes his freedom of speech.

1st Amendment Importance

In 1787 our founding fathers assembled the constitution of the United States of America. Of this which contains the most important document to the American citizen, the Bill of rights. The first Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” These freedoms granted by the Bill of Rights are often known as freedom of expression. These rights are most important to a truly free society. The first amendment provides us with new ideas and dismisses the fear of punishment

Argumentative Essay: The First Amendments

The first amendment may seem like something that is generally understood among all of those who use it, but this may not be the case. While most citizens of the United States of America would certainly say that they understand and can comprehend what the first amendment means, an underlying lack of knowledge, upon what is presumed to be the most important of all the amendments, can still be discovered. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The specific piece of the first amendment that is particularly important

Argumentative Essay: The Second Amendment

The Second Amendment protects the right of people to keep and bear arms. This amendment was a controversial among different people in the government. It was between letting the people keep their weapons or to not let the people keep their weapons. This amendment was important to the framers of the Constitution because it provided the country with a well-regulated militia. The Second Amendment states "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Some reasons why this amendment was made are that the framers wanted adults to know how to use a weapon and to be ready to use a weapon if they were attacked. During this time, the British troops were still attempting to overtake the new land, one of the ways they did this was by attempting to take the people’s guns. There was still reason to believe that British would still attack the new country and the United States did not have a real army, so any military action needed to be responded to by

Definition Of America Essay

What is America all about? What is America defined as? America is more than just its geographical boundaries. To everyone in the world, America stands for something. People believe in America. America is the place that seems to give opportunities and equal changes to all. They have more freedom than others (but not total freedom). America is a united people working together. I believe America is a place where all people have a chance to succeed in life. I also believe that in America people have the freedom to stand up for their beliefs and fight for them.

Argumentative Essay On Anthem

While reading Anthem, a very collective society was shown. But how different is the life depicted in the book compared to the style of life in America? Is America like the cut throat collectivist society shown in Anthem or is it more individualistic? Overall, America is a more individual society because the First Amendment promotes individualism, people in The United States can choose their own career and our government, which is a democracy, is created through individual ideas and opinions.

Argumentative Essay: The First Amendment In The United States

You are talking about the government...BOOM!! You're in jail. You hold a petition or go against a religion BAM!! DEATH. This would be the mayhem without the first amendment.”Where the press is free and every man is able to read, all is safe.” says Thomas Jefferson on the first amendment. The first amendment, the 5 freedoms granted to everyone, has a meaning and purpose in everyone's day to day life and will forever have an enduring impact on life in the USA.

Essay On Religious Freedom In America

There are many views and opinions of the state of the United States on this subject. It has long been a puzzling issue that never seems to seize. America should have religious freedom, because it is a constitutional right to Americans. Prayer in school, gay marriage, and governmental control, are among some of the main issues in this topic.

Why Is The First Amendment Important

To begin with, the first amendment is very important to the Constitution and our daily life. In the first amendment there are five freedoms given to American citizens, the freedom of religion (from religion too), press, speech (expression), assembly, and the right to petition against the government. According to the article “First Amendment” on kidlaws.com, the freedom of religion,

Essay On Preservation Of Liberty

To establish which amendment in the Bill of Rights is the most influential to the preservation of liberty, one must first determine the true meaning of the word liberty. The Oxford dictionary defines liberty as “The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behaviour, or political views.” Not only is this one of the core values ingrained into the base of our American culture, but it is also one of the main characteristics of a successful community (“First Amendment.”) Many societies argue that citizens do not have basic rights, the first amendment does the best job at protecting the nation's rights from the government by giving individuals freedom of speech, religion, and freedom of petition. The First Amendment has five freedoms guaranteed for the American people’s such as the right to religion, speech, and petition. This is arguably the most important amendment to liberty, and a person’s right to free will. The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or

Argumentative Essay: Freedom In The United States Today

Anyone in the world with an occasional source of internet has no choice but to see the seemingly outrageous news stories, posted weekly on events in the US. American’s have made their distrust in the government more than obvious, which in many cases, the government has provoked. The largest debate in the states today is the with the concept of freedom and where the lines are drawn between social security, equality, and one’s rights. Freedom is and always has been heavily emphasized in the development of the 50 states. It’s brought peace and war both figuratively and literally. At a moment when America should be more equal and free than ever, why do so many citizens feel their freedom is being threatened? Freedom of speech is a

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Argumentative Essay On First Amendment Rights

Persuasive essay on the first amendment.

The life of the typical American citizen is completely built upon the first Amendment, and one Micheal Chabon explained, " The First Amendment has the same role in my life as a citizen and a writer as the sun has on our ecosystem." The life led in America reflects the beliefs of freedom in all aspects of the American way of life. The real debate comes to light when both sides of an argument is fueled by the protective power of Amendments. In the article "Private License Plate Scanners Amassing Vast Databases Open to Highest Bidders"(Private), and "Who Has the Right to Track You?"(Track) To test the idea out.The decision between these cornerstone beliefs depends greatly on personal belief, but anyone with a belief in democracy and freedom will see clearly in the discussion between the ideas pushing the first and fifth amendments. It is clear that the development of these arguments is built on the use of ethos, pathos, and/or logos; style, word choice, and tone; and the author's purpose to shift the view of the reader towards the preferred view point.

Persuasive Essay On The Second Amendment

The second amendment, not only a right in the United States but today it is

Argumentative Essay: The First Amendment

The First Amendment must have limits to avoid complete mayhem. Pre-existing limits are not enough to stop the hate speech that incites violence against large groups of people. The law protects threats against these large groups and assumes that counterspeech will be regulatory. Why should people have to continuously speak out to reassert that they should be treated equally?

Persuasive Essay On Freedom Of Speech

The NFL protest is a silent protest to police brutality and institutional racism. In Between the World and Me, Coates brings attention to institutional racism and police brutality. They are both extremely common in America. The NFL protest is an act of patriotism and brings awareness to institutional racism, but some Americans find it disrespectful to the national anthem.

The First Amendment in High School Essay

What is the age that a person should be able to claim rights under the first amendment? The first thing would come to most people's mind is eighteen. However, upon examination, someone could easily justify that a sixteen year old who is in his or her second year of college would have the ability to form an opinion and should be allowed to express it. What makes this student different from another student who, at sixteen, drops out of school and gets a job, or a student who decides to wear a shirt that says "PRO-CHOICE" on it? While these students differ in many aspects such as education level, their opinion can equally be silenced under the first amendment. One of the most blatant abuses of the first amendment right to free speech is

More than than 270,000 troops are being denied their gun rights,mainly from the thoughts of those who are against the 2nd Amement. It really is common in the United States. And they also are very powerful and one shot can change your life for the worst, if used incorrectly. And that shot can or even could killed somebody. And that what makes them deadly. Guns are essiential to the United States of America because guns give us protection, and they are used for hunting and other recreational activities, and they really aren’t the biggest problem to the country.

All U.S citizens have First Amendment rights. They all have the right of freedom of speech, religion, press, petition, and assembly. Freedom of Religion enforces the separation of church and state. Freedom of Speech allows people to express themselves without the interference or regulation by the government. Freedom of the Press allows people to express themselves through dissemination and publication. Freedom to Assemble allows individuals to get together for lawful and peaceful purposes. Freedom to Petition give people the right to ask government to correct a problem. Even though there might be certain hate groups, protesters, or discriminators, they can also be protected by their rights only if it doesn't interfere with other people's rights or gets those rights taken away. I believe that all U.S citizens should be able to practice any right they choose to.

Second Amendment Persuasive Essay

The right to bear arms is a birth given right to all Americans by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Second Amendment has become controversial recently due to the technological advancement of firearms. Modern firearms are capable of both high rates of fire and greater capacities of ammunition, unlike the single shot muskets that were available at the time of the Second Amendment’s conception. American liberals view these improvements in firearms as dangerous and unnecessary. However, no matter how dangerous firearms may be, the Second Amendment is a necessity for one factor alone: protection from one’s own government and it must be upheld. The Second Amendment provides a physical tool for Americans to defend themselves against a tyrannical government, it allows Americans to form militias against a tyrannical government, and it allows Americans to maintain comparable firearms of the U.S. government in order to prevent the potential loss of American freedoms in the future.

Informative Essay: The First Amendment

The freedom of religion has been essential since the day colonists began to flee from Great Britain to America. America was, and is, a place they could come and be free of persecution for what they believe. Unfortunately, over the course of history,

Not The Final CHHII 665 Essay

Reno, R.R. "Defending religious liberty." First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life 225 (2012): 3+. Academic OneFile. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.

Civil Liberties Essay

From the beginning, the United States Constitution has guaranteed the American people civil liberties. These liberties have given citizens rights to speak, believe, and act freely. The Constitution grants citizens the courage to express their mind about something they believe is immoral or unjust. The question is, how far are citizens willing to extend the meanings of these liberties? Some people believe that American citizens take advantage of their civil liberties, harming those around them. On the contrary, many other people feel that civil liberties are necessary tools to fight for their Constitutional rights.

The First Amendment one that is watered down, serves as example of the freedom we as Americans have. It is best known as the amendment that lets us say what we want when we want. There is more to it that gets overlooked. It blocks government from establishing a theocracy, grants the people the right to peacefully assemble and protest the government for a redress of grievances. Our press is independent and is given freedom to publish at will. Our freedoms embolden us to speak out and organize for progress and against society's wrongs. Sometimes groups will organize to speak out but will sink to extreme measures as a means of expression. The first amendment has seen challenges in recent months. “Donald Trump referred to the press, and I'm quoting his exact words, as "dishonest, disgusting, and scum."Just ten days ago, you might have heard in a press conference, President Donald Trump said that the "press is out of control."(Chemerinsky, 553). To clashes between different ideologies on college campuses with some initiating riots. The first amendment grants many freedoms, however it does not grant protection from consequence.

First Amendment Rights Debate

The capability to speak openly and practice the religion of your choice has existed since the birth of the United States of America. Yet in the past decade, more people than ever have caused us to question which first amendment right should be protected more; freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Such events where the two rights are pinned against each other, both seeking to sense a feeling of supremacy, have proved to lead to conflict and even bloodshed.

Argumentative Essay On The Bill Of Rights

The Bill of Rights is one of the most important things in the American government .The Bill of Rights has 10 Amendments. The fifth one however is one of the important one. The fifth Amendment deals with police procedures. Along with basic Constitutional limits, or in other words guidelines that Congress has to follow. The Fifth Amendment is a one of the most important Amendments because it gives people the rights to speech and privacy, the fifth doesn’t let people be charged with the same felony twice, and it gives citizens the right to a fair trial.

What is free speech? Does the term ‘free speech’ cover offensive words? Painful ones? Words that disrespect others? What about objectionable, or even wrong beliefs? When is speech illegal? What is exactly meant by free speech? According to Rampell, the term ‘free speech’ includes ‘hate speech’, and is therefore protected by the first amendment (np). This means that even messages we don’t like, agree with, feel uncomfortable about, or even are disgusted by, are legal. Unfortunately, many college students consider harmful words an assault, and some students believe that such verbal attacks can and should be met with violence (French np). Students and speakers today are discriminated against in classrooms and other scenes where free speech and debate should be especially cherished.

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Argumentative Essay On The First Amendment Of The Constitution

first amendment rights argument essay

Show More The first amendment of the constitution is the right of free speech; throughout our history the first amendment has been interpreted in a number of ways. Despite this fact all Americans agree that this is one of our most important rights, and lays the foundation for our nations core beliefs. The first amendment is a short statement “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech , or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (1) Though it holds a great deal of power, it upholds strong personal values, and sets a precedent for the future of our country. The only problem …show more content… They shun older government structures such as monarchies, even though monarchies are newer and are based on more modern principles. I am not advocating for monarchies what so ever, I just wanted to point out that even though democratic principles are extremely older than dynastic principles, we have found ourselves going with an older methodology. This shows that humans may revisit certain ideologies from the past, and this can be a very good thing in some cases. Hate speech laws could impede our civilization from accessing some of these old principles because they are somewhat offensive to a certain person/people. People should have the inexcusable right to self determination that our forefathers imagined we should have. People who agree with the creation of speech laws simply do not have a proper sense of American freedoms. Americans are often touted as being ignorant and blunt in some regards, but at least we have a very strong cultural foundation in freedom of speech unlike some countries in Europe who have very strong hate speech laws that could land them in jail if they say something that is deemed as offensive. These countries will ultimately come to realize the problems with these laws and the people living within these countries will yearn for such beautiful freedoms that our constitution provides us. Therefore, it is clear to see why our society should take this topic very seriously, and we should not cooperate with anyone who try’s to limit our freedom of expression in anyway whatsoever, and if people don’t respect that than they have the right to form an argument against it, because their right to free speech is

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first amendment rights argument essay

Essays on First Amendment

The overview of the first amendment to the united states constitution, the first amendment: the most discussed amendment in the constitution, the right to freedom of religion in the first amendment of the constitution, the main aspects of the right to free speech, freedom comes before equality - first amendment, the role of the first amendment and free speech in digital era, the restriction of our first amendment rights through the use of censorship, an examination of the first amendment: the freedom of speech, politically correct and inappropriate words to be excluded from first amendment, a study on the westboro baptist church and the scope of the first amendment, the separation of the church and state and the different interpretation of the first amendment, how political correctness is an attack on the 1st amendment, the first amendment and the ku klux klan, why is the first amendment important: essay on the role of amendment for video game companies, why is the first amendment important: citizens' freedom of speech, feeling stressed about your essay.

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first amendment rights argument essay

First Amendment Essays

The first amendment.

The First Amendment does not protect all forms of speech. Although its protections are incredibly diverse and broad, the First Amendment does not protect forms of speech including: “obscenity, fighting words, defamation (including libel and slander), child pornography, perjury, blackmail, incitement to imminent lawless action, true threats, and solicitations to commit crimes” (Freedom Forum Institute, 1). The incorporation doctrine is a constitutional doctrine establishing the Bill of Rights (amendments 1-10) as fundamental rights guaranteed in both federal and state court […]

First Amendment Petition Clause

Under the United States Constitution, the first amendment protects the American right to petition the government for redress of grievances. In the Declaration of Independence, Congress included American’s list of grievances toward the British government. American colonies repeatedly requested relief from these said grievances such as taxation without consent, or the prevention of people elected rulers, but they were only met with more restrictions. One of the main reasons this right is so important was because the United States’ first […]

The Origins of the First Amendment

The first well-known amendment of the constitution, the first amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”. The U.S. government cannot require a specific religion for all its citizens. United States citizens have the right to decide what faith we want to […]

1st Amendment and Congress

David Thuita I Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The beginning of the second amendment finds its root in Athens, Greece during the 400s B.C., where free men were allowed to freely speak. Athen theaters, writings, and educational institutions all […]

First Amendment Values

Americans value the First Amendment as much as a teenage girl values her cell phone. Life just wouldn’t be the same without it. Thanks to the authors of the Constitution America has established the fundamental laws, government, and basic rights for American citizens. The document was signed on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia. Later, Madison introduced 19 amendments, 12 of which were adopted. Ten of them were ratified and became the Bill of Rights on December 10, 1791. The First […]

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Protection our First Amendment V. the End Collective Bargaining

On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled, with a vote of 5 to 4, in favor of Marc Janus in the case Janus v. American Federation of County, and Municipal Employees. The Supreme Court overturns the 40-year-old precedence that mandated for unions in 22 states for non-members to pay agency fees that help fund collective bargaining activities. For the simple reason that regardless of membership status non-members still benefited from any bargaining outcomes. Marc Janus is a state employee, […]

The First Amendment: Freedom of Religion

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Freedom of religion means that all men are free to have their personal options in choosing a religion to follow. That men should not be punished because of the religion they follow. That the government […]

The First and Fourteenth Amendment

Without freedom of speech and equal protection, our country would be drastically different. There are two essential things to remember about the First Amendment protection of free speech. The main reason we have freedom of speech is to allow for public criticism of the government. Secondly, it important to remember is that the First Amendment protects us from the government doing things that try to refuse your freedom of speech, but not anyone else. What this means is that we […]

The First Amendment the Foundation for True Liberty in America

“”The very reason for the First Amendment is to make the people of this country free to think, speak, write and worship as they wish, not as the Government commands.”” (Hugo Black) The First Amendment is indescribably important to the foundation of true liberty in this country. Being the first amendment in the Bill of Rights, it protects freedom of speech, religion, press, and to assemble and petition. In the summer of 1787, politicians from around our newly created country, […]

The Original Bill of Rights

On September 25, 1789, the state legislatures were presented with twelve amendments drafted by James Madison to add to the Constitution. It was on December 15, 1791 that ten of the twelve amendments, number 3 through twelve, were ratified and employed by the federal government, becoming the United States Bill of Rights (Jordan). The Bill of Rights acted as a compromise between the federalists and anti-federalists to get the Constitution ratified (Bill of Right Institute Staff, “”Bill of Rights””). The […]

The Bill of Rights and Constitution

On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights became part of the Constitution. These amendments were created to protect the rights of the citizens of the United States. The most important rights that were created in the Bill of Rights is the first amendment, it protects a citizen’s freedom of speech and allow them to freely speak what they want and believe. It also allows the freedom of religion and press. First Amendment allows Americans who live in a country […]

Civil Rights and First Amendment

How does the text define civil rights? Civil rights are the freedom from unequal treatment. To have civil rights is to have the freedom to be able to participate in all aspects of a society, “to vote, use public facilities, and exercise equal economic opportunity.” It takes the government to protect the civil rights of the people but protecting the rights of some can infringe the rights of others by forcing prejudice people to accept a society that they are […]

First Amendment and Social Media

“The ratification of the U.S constitution in 1791 hinged on the adoption of The Bill of Rights consisting of first ten amendments. The first amendment of which protects basic freedoms including speech, religion, press and assemble however, have had its implication to be the subject of continuing interpretation and dispute over the years for media platforms. Today, the lack of use of the first amendment on social media in comparison to use in society is raising concerns for the detriments […]

Banned Books and the First Amendment Essay

Literature is an important aspect of the human life. The freedom of reading is an issue due to language usage and subject matter. Banning books could either be censoring individuals from the pain of history, or allowing them to expand their intellectual capacity. Evidently, banning books could be both favorable, and a cause for concern. The article “Read the Great Books That Use the Worst Slur,” authored by Tonyn Norman argues the need to protect the eyes and ears of […]

3d Printed Guns It is Constitutional

Even though this is an incredibly new technology, politicians and even presidents around the globe makers have recognized 3D printed guns and what’s behind it. Regardless of what their actual thoughts are on the topic, the laws that they have tried to put into place that obstructs the progress of the technology has risen the number of questions that deal with it. Questions such as whether or not it is constitutional to make them, distribute them or even use them. […]

First Amendment Freedom of Speech

The 2017 Berkeley protests organized by different groups including By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) were an abject violation of the freedom of speech as outlined in the First Amendment of the American constitution. The protests successfully stopped a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial Breitbart editor and a self-declared Trump supporter. The protests turned violent and led to the destruction of the property thus posing significant harm to the society. In defending the protests, Yvette Felarca, BAMN’s spokesperson argued that […]

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first amendment rights argument essay

Essay: The Constitution, the First Amendment, and Religious Liberty

first amendment rights argument essay

The Constitution, the First Amendment, and Religious Liberty

Directions: Read the essay and answer the critical thinking questions.

Throughout world history, religious conflicts have been widespread and bloody. In contrast, Americans of various faiths have been able, with some exceptions, to live side by side in relative harmony. What has made the difference? Religious liberty is one important answer. To support religious liberty, the Founders worked to ensure that government was properly limited in its purpose, as well as in its power.

Virginia’s Religious Revolution

At the time the Constitution was ratified, many of the original 13 states still supported established churches. Many Americans believed that government should support religion because religion promoted virtuous lives and nurtured the social order needed for self-government.

The Anglican Church was the established denomination in Virginia, though citizens could belong to any Christian church. Baptists were a fast-growing minority in Virginia. They did not believe that the government should have so much control over religion, and did not follow Virginia’s law that required a license to preach. As a result, Baptists were arrested, fined, and sometimes physically assaulted. Baptist preachers were whipped and dunked into mud to the point of near drowning. Baptists petitioned the Virginia government to disestablish the Anglican Church, and give all churches equal rights and benefits.

In 1776, the Virginia legislature adopted a Declaration of Rights, which included a provision dealing with religion. George Mason, the Declaration’s chief draftsman, first wrote: “All Men shou’d enjoy the fullest Toleration in the Exercise of Religion, according to the Dictates of Conscience.” But a young James Madison thought Mason’s draft did not go far enough. Madison believed that the language of “toleration” meant that a government could grant—or deny—citizens the privilege of exercising religion. Madison recommended new wording affirming that free religious belief and exercise were a natural right and duty of all. The final Declaration declared “That Religion, or the duty which we owe to our CREATOR, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.…”

Religious dissenters, who were not members of the established church, thought the logic of the provision would place all churches on an equal footing before the law and lead to disestablishment. However, Virginians would continue to debate the implications of this provision for the next decade.

Religious Assessments

By the mid-1780s, taxes to support the Anglican Church had been suspended. In 1784, Patrick Henry proposed a general tax called the Bill Establishing a Provision for Teachers [Ministers] of the Christian Religion. Similar to some New England state laws, citizens would choose which Christian church received their support, or the money could go to a general fund to be distributed by the state legislature.

One notable supporter of the bill was George Washington. He wrote to James Madison: “No man’s sentiments are more opposed to any kind of restraint upon religious principles than mine are; yet I must confess, that I am not amongst the number of those who are so much alarmed at the thoughts of making people pay towards the support of that which they profess, if of the denominations of Christians; or declare themselves Jews, Mahomitans or otherwise, & thereby obtain proper relief.”

Opponents of the bill included James Madison. Madison wrote the Memorial and Remonstrance (1785) opposing the proposed tax. He asserted that religion could not be forced on people, and that state support actually corrupted religion. Government properly limited, rather, would promote a civil society in which people of different faiths could maintain their beliefs according to their own consciences. Madison’s side won the debate and Henry’s religious assessments bill did not pass.

The next year, the Virginia legislature passed The Virginia Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson. This 1786 law (still on the books in Virginia) banned government interference in religion and individual beliefs. Some, but not all, other states gradually followed the example of Virginia.

The Constitution and the First Amendment

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the delegates did not discuss basing the government on a religion. The only mention of religion in the body of the U.S. Constitution is to ban religious tests for national office in Article 6, Section 3. Federal employees and elected officials did not have to belong to a specific church or even be religious. This provision passed without debate.

The Constitution likely would not have been ratified without the promise of a Bill of Rights. Many states sent Congress proposed amendments that would add protections from the national government. Included in the proposals was protection for freedom of religion. Congress spent weeks debating different wordings. Finally, amendments were sent to the states for ratification. The religion clauses of the First Amendment read: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The first part, known as the Establishment Clause, prohibited the national government from having anything to do with a national religion. Second, the Free Exercise Clause denied the national government the power to pass laws that stopped individuals from practicing their religions.

States did not have to disestablish their churches because the Constitution and Bill of Rights only applied to the national government. Some of the states maintained established churches and many maintained religious tests for office for many years.



Argumentative Essay On The First Amendment

The First Amendment is one of the most important and controversial amendments in the Constitution. The First Amendment is the amendment that guarantees your rights and protection of free speech, assembly, press, and religion. These rights are very important to the American people because without them we would have no freedom. Muhammad Ali, one of the world’s greatest boxing champions, was one day stripped of his 1st Amendment freedoms. During the time of the Vietnam War the United States armed forces called for a draft. The draft selected people from all around the U.S., even athletes. One of the athletes selected for the draft was a boxer from Louisville that goes by the name of Muhammad Ali. Ali went to take his army physical for the draft …show more content… Ali and his lawyers did fight against the case claiming First Amendment rights of freedom of religion. “But now that I’m the champion, I am the king, so it seems the world is all shook up about what I believe…The real name is Islam. That means peace,” said Ali. Muhammad claimed that this violence was against his religious beliefs of Islam. It is clear that Muhammad’s religious beliefs are being brought into question. His lawyers tried to appeal his case through the federal courts in order to get to the Supreme Court. There were both individual and public stakes at hand during this case. The public stakes is that Ali would be drafted to the war along with many other Americans, while the individual right at stake is that Ali’s First Amendment right of freedom of religion will not be protected. When Muhammad’s case finally reached the Supreme Court after four years of the ongoing case, the lower court’s decision was overruled. The decision was 8-0 in Ali’s favor. Clearly, Ali should have won the case from the beginning because the First Amendment protects your freedom of Show More

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