Freedom of Religion

Right to Free and Unrestrained Worship or Nonworship

Beautiful Islamic Call To Prayer

What Does Freedom of Religion Mean?

  • Refers to the freedom of individual should have to hold and carry out their religious beliefs in both private and public places.
  • Also refers to the ability to alter your religious beliefs, convert to another religion, or hold no creed whatsoever.
  • In many modern countries, this freedom also extends the ability to hold no or multiple religious beliefs simultaneously.
  • Often a freedom that is held alongside a state established religion. While all may practice their own religion under a country's laws, the state established religion is given a special status and benefits.

What Does Freedom of Religion Not Mean?

Freedom of religion does not translate to the right to have the world around you reflect your religious beliefs. For example:

  • You have the right to prayer, but you do not have the right to interrupt regular daily activity and lives of others in order to do so.
  • You have the right to follow and revere the ten commandments, but you do not have the right to have your specific creed displayed or promoted in public places.
  • You have the right to believe in creationism or evolution, but you do not have the right to negate the educational value of either theory in a school setting.

Issues Surrounding Freedom of Religion

  • In many countries of the world, religious freedom is not a government guarantee. Many choose to establish national religions, or give preference to one belief system over all others. This results in mass persecution and dangerous situations for those whose religious beliefs don't follow a country's norms.
  • Religious liberty is often used as a pretext to discrimination as well. Examples such as Indiana's recent religious freedom law show that the often freedom of religion is used to mitigate the equal treatment of those whose choices or beliefs we disagree.
  • Often, especially in the United States, many religious supporters see themselves and their religion as predominant or intrinsically tied to the country and its constitution. This results in battles of righteousness vs. the ideals of "separation of church and state."
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What Can You Do?

Protecting and advocating religious freedom is a battle that can be fought on two fronts:

  • First, be certain that you are accountable for your own actions in regards to the religious beliefs of others. Make sure that you are respectful to the beliefs or nonbeliefs of those around you and that you treat everyone equally regardless of his or her religious creeds.
  • On the governmental level, you can support laws and organizations that fight for our essential liberties like religion both in the United States and abroad. A few such organizations are listed below.