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5 - Historical Foundations and Enduring Fundamentals of American Religious Freedom

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 October 2021

John Witte, Jr.
Affiliation:
Emory University, Atlanta
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Summary

The eighteenth-century American founders believed that religion is special and deserves special constitutional protection, and that all peaceable faiths must be drawn into the constitutional process and protection. The founders introduced six constitutional principles for the protection of religious freedom – freedom of conscience, free exercise of religion, religious pluralism, religious equality, separation of church and state, and no federal establishment of religion. Since the 1940s, the US Supreme Court has upheld these religious freedom principles in more 170 cases, albeit unevenly of late. Moreover, in recent years religious freedom has come under sharp popular and academic attack, particularly as religious pathologies have come to light and religious freedom claims have clashed with sexual liberty claims. This chapter calls for a return to the first principles of religious freedom for all, at home and abroad, and for a new balance between religious freedom and other fundamental rights claims.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Blessings of Liberty
Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the Western Legal Tradition
, pp. 138 - 170
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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