Bill of Rights: Four Freedoms

Topics: First Amendment to the United States Constitution, United States Constitution, Human rights Pages: 5 (1513 words) Published: May 3, 2005
The first amendment of the Bill of Rights to the constitution guarantees four freedoms: freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. The Bill of Rights was passed on December 15, 1791. Since then, the freedoms have been debated, discussed, and fought and died for. Many have immigrated to America to receive those freedoms. The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing because they believed in power of ideas and debate, not censorship. The first amendment to the constitution is important because it prohibits congress from establishing an official religion in the U.S., gives Americans the freedom to say what is on their minds, and gives the right to petition and assemble peacefully.

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States gives every individual the same rights. One right is the constitutional protection for the free exercise of religion. The second right is prohibition of the establishment of religion by the state. The founders of the constitution recognized the freedom of religion as an important factor in establishing a democracy. They also recognized a space of freedom between the government and the people, whereby the government could not force an individual or group to do something they did not want to do. The government is not upholding their part of the constitution. They are trying to tell people that saying prayer in public school is unconstitutional.

In fact, prayer in public school is legal, so is prayer in church and prayer in stores etc. The area which is not legal is when students or teachers pray when engaged in school activities or instruction. This means students or teachers may pray in an informal setting, such as cafeterias and hallways. They may talk about and discuss problems with religion and their beliefs at that time. A person may come to school early and sit quietly and pray. With the permission of the school a group of students could establish a prayer club. All these things are legal, but what the government is trying to avoid is mandatory school prayer. Mandatory school prayer is illegal and violates the constitution. It would contradict all separation between church and state. If prayer in public school was made necessary the country would most likely be divided. You would have the religious leader ecstatic about the freedom of prayer. Then you would have offended non-believers or believer of other denominations or people who find the government too controlling. With legalization of prayer, would come disruption in the way the government is run. Whereby the beliefs of an individual, like the president or a member of congress, would set goals using feelings and not thinking through the problem. For example, a president with strong religious beliefs would be against anything dealing with moral issues. The ideals of an individual would then be imposed on another. Also the government, in giving permission to a prayer in school, would imply that one religion was better than the another. This could be solved by giving each major religion a prayer and read separately by individuals.

In all truth, our forefathers were pioneers into our freedom of speech. The Revolutionary War took place in pursuit of the freedoms written about by colonial politicians. The monarch's in England were ultimately unable to do anything to diminish the use of free speech (Armstrong, 26) Overtime, this amendment has been tested in many ways. The "freedom of speech" later covered not just "speech" but also television, newspapers, the arts, and literature. In its early existence, many felt it was written by and for upper- class white men. United States history tells the stories of the many demonstrations, battles, and wars fought to ensure that the document protects and works for all citizens.

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"(Constitution, 1st...
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