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“Increasing numbers of Americans endorse a capacious concept of equality — “equality as sameness” — that treats social distinctions, especially religious distinctions, as arbitrary and unimportant”. In recent times there has been a great dismissal for respecting religious beliefs. People fail to understand the boundaries that come with the religions and have started to dehumanize these people and their actions for following a belief system. There have been several cases where religious people have been prosecuted in court for supposedly ‘violating’ equality laws, but according to our constitution, people should be able to freely practice religion without interference from the state. Religious freedom should not be disregarded in the government systems because freedom is what founded the nation of America, by not acknowledging this, it denies Americans of their rights, and recognizing religion in government systems can help with balancing religious freedom and non-establishment laws.
Religious freedom is what brought on the American Revolution. The people were seeking liberty and rights to worship who and how they pleased. From the beginning, religion is what shaped American government and politics. All throughout history there has been conflicts that revolve around religious activities from early persecution of Christians, to current day suicide attacks from Islamic people, but this does not mean that practicing religion brings about world problems, it is all the more reason to for religions to be acknowledged by the state. Freedom of religion is the first freedom specified, it is what brought people to America. For the first time the state could not rule what a person had to believe, it was the land of opportunity.
Ignoring the freedom of religion denies Americans of their rights. In court, using religious convictions as justification does not hold up before a jury or judge because it does not give a factual defense, but when over sixty-four percent of Americans practice doctrine, experiential evidence regarding faith should be permissible and not dismissed as irrelevant. In a case where an owner of a cake shop denied a gay couple service, the court was biased and disrespectful of his convictions and disparaged them. The court was also inconsistent with the fact that they allowed several cases go on the grounds of conscience and the court ruled that the party had acted lawfully, but when dealing with religious convictions, the court showed disfavor in the case. Early Christians suffered persecution simply because they refused to do a simple, but public act, and this is what is being seen here. An American that has the right to freely practice their belief without the interference of the state, but yet this case was brought all the way to the Supreme Court.
The Free Exercise Law says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. In the case of Employment Division v. Smith, Branton Nestor, writer for the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, found that “Free Exercise Clause does not generally protect religiously motivated conduct”. Two drug rehabilitation officers lost their jobs when they had conducted a religious ceremony and ingested peyote. When applying for unemployment compensation they were denied because it was claimed that the workers were fired for ‘work-related misconduct’.
By acknowledging religion in government systems it can help resolve indifferences between religious freedom and non-establishment laws. Non-establishment laws keep the state neutral in favoring non-religion or religion. Faith is rapidly disappearing with rising generations, and is losing personal connections, it is taken for granted, so there becomes a problem of respect. “The law with respect to religious accommodations is currently something of a “patchwork”. Both religious and non-religious perspectives have their places and must both be recognized, and doing so will help with overall neutrality and equality. It was in the minds of the Founding Fathers to create a neutral government as “the first sixteen words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
Within Rawls’s theory of liberalism all coercive laws must be validated by “public reasoning”. Coercive are not allowed to be based upon “comprehensive doctrines”.
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