Historical Foundations and Enduring Fundamentals of American Religious Freedom

“Historical Foundations and Enduring Fundamentals of American Religious Freedom,” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 33 (2020): 156-167

13 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2020

See all articles by John Witte

John Witte

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

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 state establishment of religion. Since the 1940s, the United States 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 Essay 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.

Keywords: Law, Religion, Law and Religion, First Amendment, Religious Freedom, John Adams, James Madison, United States Supreme Court

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, Historical Foundations and Enduring Fundamentals of American Religious Freedom (2020). “Historical Foundations and Enduring Fundamentals of American Religious Freedom,” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 33 (2020): 156-167 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3641639

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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