Talk:Free Exercise Clause

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This shouldn't be merged[edit]

The free exercise clause and the establishment clause are two entirely different clauses in the First Amendment. Maybe they could both be merged together into an article on the First Amendment, but free exercise certainly doesn't belong under the establishment clause. --Cyde 21:45, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

Simply, each clause of the Constitution should have its own section; Separation of church and state in the United States, while related, is not mentioned in the US Constitution. Assawyer 02:23, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm confused, Cyde. If two separate articles are needed, why do both articles begin, the top of their ledes, with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”? Personally, I see no reason to split the sentence into two articles. Thank you, Wordreader (talk) 01:35, 3 January 2016 (UTC)

This should be merged[edit]

While the two clauses are different they cannot be understood separately from one another. I contend they compliment and to discuss oopeans coming to North America were escaping religious wars. Yes, some did establish religious communities, colonies and states. But others did not, South Carolina for one.

The horror of religious wars on the continent of Europe during and following the Reformation begged the question, "How do we avoid these Princes killing us in the name of the Christian Faith?" The answer lay in creating a tension between "free Excercise" (the power of the State cannot dictate religion to its citizens) and non-establishment (the State will not establish any of the religions).

Strict "separation of Church and State" folks may disagree but the answer to keeping our current "culture war" from becoming a religious war is to recognize that religion (all religions!) must be honored by the State, not avoided as if it were a fatal disease. Religion should be for the State like medicine - none of it and you are sick; too much and you die.

Do we really need that?[edit]

The part about "Student Research": it seems a little... out of place with both topic and wording. 68.39.174.238 05:04, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Sherbert Test: Another merger proposal...[edit]

...but I think this one's more reasonable. The test seems to be essentially a strict scrutiny (compelling interest) test applied to the Free Exercise clause. I talked this over with Cyde months ago when he and I were the only one's who'd edited Sherbert Test, but I never got around to merging them. --Chaser (T) 04:44, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

The Sherbert Test should be in the article, however I believe having in the article about the case - Sherbert v. Verner - would be the more prudant thing to do. Such as how the Lemon Test redirects to and is found in the Lemon v. Kurtzman article. --Assawyer 16:27, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
Done. Sherbert Test now redirects. The old page is here. Reviewing of the new Sherbert article is welcome.--Chaser (T) 02:21, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Compelling Interest[edit]

Why does compelling interest redirect here? Doesn't the doctrine apply in situations other than the free exercise clause? Commander Nemet 07:16, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Yes. As I understand it compelling interest is part of strict scrutiny, a level of protection under the Equal Protection Clause. I changed it to strict scrutiny. If someone knows more, please redirect it elsewhere. --Chaser T 07:44, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

It's compelling STATE interest, I have created a page on compelling state interest. It includes a list of other things to which it applies. Jdblick 15:32, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Mormon polygamy[edit]

  • Congress banned polygamy when the practice was a central tenet of the Mormon religion. The Supreme Court sustained the constitutionality of the criminal prohibition in Reynolds v. United States (1878). The defendant proved that he was a member of the Mormon Church; that he was a believer in its doctrines; that it was an accepted precept of the Church, fortified by books thought to be of divine origin, that male members were saddled with a duty to practice polygamy; and, that a failure or refusal to do so would be punished by damnation in the life to come. Chief Justice Morrison Waite denied that the Free Exercise Clause was transgressed by the defendant's conviction.
  • The chief justice reasoned that, "Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere opinion, but was left free to reach activities in violation of social duties or subversive of good order." He added: "To permit [a religious motivation to justify non-compliance] would be to make professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself." Associate Justice Antonin Scalia endorsed Reynolds in Employment Division v. Smith (1990) in denying the religious use of peyote a Free Exercise Clause exemption from Oregon's anti-drug laws. [1]

Is this information already in Wikipedia somewhere? If not, should it go here? --Uncle Ed 13:32, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

Jehova's Witnesses Cases in the Introductory paragraphs?[edit]

I don't want to make an edit that might look POV without discussing it first. However, I take issue with the fact that the article goes onto the "Jehova's Witnesses cases" (as though it were some functional or doctrinal category) before the main subject of the clause has even fully been introduced. Yes, many FE clause cases have involved that particular group, however, I think that putting such focus on it distorts the article. The clause was not made to protect one religious group; it was made to protect a fundamental freedom for all of the people. I cannot cite at this time, any study that attributes FE clause litigation by sect, but I sincerely doubt, based upon my extensive experience, that the majority of FE clause cases, or even a significant plurality, are brought by that group.

The FE clause cases brought by the Jehovas Witnesses are significant for their doctrinal impact but they are treated in an entire section of the article already. And I am really not sure why that is. The cases are doctrinally different. Also, by drawing particular focus on one particular religion, it could send several messages: (i) Jehova's Witnesses are pioneering legal libertarians (ii) Jehova's Witnesses are whiny, plaintive or litigious (iii) Jehova's Witnesses bring the majority of free exercise clause cases

I am quite sure none of these are "true" to any extent. Moreover, they are generalizations about a religious group, and therefore, inherently discriminatory, whether positive or negative in their impact. I don't think that's an appropriate position for the article to take.

Because it distorts the article and potentially spreads undue messages, the article should be changed. I recommend the following: (i) promptly remove reference to "jehovas witness" cases in the introduction. (ii) keep a seperate section on "jehovas witness" cases in the body article. (iii) eventually add more information to the introduction on the legislative history, or link to appropriate sources thereupon, and organize the article along doctrinlly clearer lines, while retaining appropriate reference to the role of Jehovas Witnesses cases

What does the wikimmunity think? Please weigh in. If no one weighs in for a while (say, 2 months of silence) I may make the edits I recommended myself. Non Curat Lex (talk) 10:11, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Two Clauses[edit]

The First Amendment expresses two protections referred to as the Establishment Clause (the set of words immediately preceding the comma) and the Free Exercise Clause (the set of words which follows the comma.) The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from establishing a official religion and the Free Exercise Clause prohibits the government from interfering with the free exercise of any religion. These two concepts are distinct and separate, not synonyms for one another. Recent good faith edits suggest a misunderstanding of that distinction. Celestra (talk) 16:31, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Possible bias[edit]

A revision made by an IP user back in mid-March seems to add a lot of rather thinly-veiled, anti-separation language to the overview section making the article take on a pretty unbalanced tone. Should it be removed or edited to be more neutral? MasterNetHead (talk) 02:42, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

I second this concern. The quotes that begin the "Overview" section are selective. Noah Webster, for example, had a tangential relationship (at most) to the drafting of the Constitution; his quote has little relevance to a discussion of the Free Exercise Clause. Furthermore, the section entirely ignores several individuals more directly involved with the Constitution (such as James Madison, who wrote it). Seems indicative of an agenda. -- NamibiaCoastGuard (talk) 24 April 2011

Supported quotes in and removed content from the lead[edit]

I happened to look at this article today and was surprised not to see citations supporting the direct quotes in the lead. WP:V says, "Attribute all quotations [...] to a reliable, published source using an inline citation." I've supplied cites supporting the quotes. I've removed "(Page 162)" and instead specified pin=162 in the {{ussc}} template I've used in the cite, as I'm guessing that is what it referred to. That didn't work with either the template's default source (Justia) or with Findlaw, but I ended up specifying Findlaw as a source since that results in a link to the text of the opinion which can be searched for the quoted text.

Some digging led me to this January 10, 2009 edit. Since the lead has been like this for so long, I thought that I ought to comment here on the talk page, not just in an edit summary. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 02:46, 12 December 2015 (UTC)

Prefer the last version.[edit]

I know that this is a small change, but the insertion of the "it's" is just less elegant. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Free_Exercise_Clause&diff=next&oldid=694862650#Jehovah.27s_Witnesses_cases Thank you, 69.116.56.228 (talk) 05:18, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

Oooops! that's me. Wordreader (talk) 05:20, 28 January 2016 (UTC)