CAN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BECOME RELIGIOUS LICENSE?
July 17, 2020
The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees both freedom of
religion, and the separation of church and state. How far may people go,
though, in practicing their religion? What if those religious practices come
into conflict with the law?
Proponents of a Religious
Liberty Protection Act say that legislation is
necessary to stop government encroachment on religious exercise. They point
to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in EMPLOYMENT DIVISION v. SMITH (1991) which
examined the case of a member of the Native American Church who essentially
sough a legal exemption from drug prohibition laws in order to consume peyote
-- and illegal hallucinogenic substance -- as part of a religious ritual.
The justices ruled that government could impinge on religious practice if
“neutral” civil laws were being enforced.
Earlier legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was struck
down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997
Flash Line story). Attempts to pass a similar
measure have failed; but last weekend, Sens. Orrin Hatch and Edward Kennedy
introduced the Religious
Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.
Critics say that the legislation would give
religious groups unprecedented power to challenge or ignore state, local and
federal statutes dealing with everything from zoning and land use to
environmental regulations. Another portion of RLUIPA would give prison
inmates greater latitude in practicing religion. This appeals to many
Christian fundamentalist groups which are seeking to proselytize behind bars,
or even have government fund religion-based prison rehab programs. Critics
suggests, though, that hate groups are already using bizarre religious
beliefs as a way of getting legitimatcy within the penal system.
How far should religious practices be permitted to go? Should sectarian
groups be provided exemptions from certain laws that others are required to
obey? American Atheist Magazine wants your opinion. We suggest that you
first read the latest FLASHLINE story,
which discusses a new
controversy from Utah involving claims that certain types of ceremonial drug
use should have a religion-based exemption. Then we have word of a report
from the Southern Poverty Law Center about extremist hate groups operating
under the mantle of religious belief within the nation's prison system. Both
stories raise questions -- and concerns -- not so much about religious
BELIEFS as religious PRACTICES.
This poll is now closed. You can view the final results.
- View final results.
to Magazine Index.
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Billboards of Hate
Is Christmas A Secular Holiday?
Studying the Bible in Public Schools
Public Funding of Controversial Art Exhibits
Public financing of private schools
Intervention In Kosovo
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Public Piety in Sports
The Pope’s Agenda for America
Blasphemy and the law
Church bulletin Discounts
Boy Scout Discrimination
The Religious Freedom Amendment
The execution of Karla Faye Tucker.
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