Religious Freedom In The United States

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Religious freedom has been a staple of the American doctrine since the Bill of Rights. Since then, religious freedom has been challenged repeatedly. From the Supreme Court’s rulings that have shaped religious freedoms, Congress’ enactment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the religious accommodations that have been challenged after the legalization of same-sex marriage, and the religious obstacles that Muslims face. Religious freedom has been and continues to be a center point in American politics.
The Supreme Court has shaped the interpretation of religious freedom within the United States through rulings on cases regarding the First Amendment. Some of the early cases heard resulted over the amount of religious liberty and
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However, the main intent of the RFRA was to reinstate the compelling interest standard, which would be done through necessary strict scrutiny of laws which wanting to outweigh religious conviction (6). Since the Bill of Rights the United States federal law has maintained the attempt to stop legislation that would significantly constrict a person's right to freely exercise religion. But, starting in 1990 with a case known as Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith, the Supreme Court ruled that Oregon can prohibit the religious use of peyote (15). The reason for this is because peyote is criminalized in Oregon, which gives the law secular purpose, and the Supreme Court has never allowed criminal laws. The ruling of this case caused many conservatives and liberals alike to feel that the ruling went too far in the direction of restricting religious belief and the ability to freely exercise those beliefs. This is why the RFRA was passed and is used in shaping arguments that take place over religious freedoms where a compelling interest is needed, which can be done through strict scrutiny. One such circumstance of this happening is the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, an unforeseen consequence over the usage of the …show more content…
The reasons as to why these businesses choose not to provide goods or services towards gay and lesbian couples stems from their religious beliefs. Two cases to take note of are Elane Photography in New Mexico, who rejected to take pictures at a lesbian couple’s wedding. The other case revolves around Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, they refused to provide a cake for a wedding of a same-sex couple on the belief that it went against their religion. Both cases were brought before a state court where they ruled in favor of the couples. Arguments as to why private business owners should not be able to deny service to others because of their religious beliefs comes directly from anti-discrimination legislation passed within Colorado and New Mexico, along with 19 others, for a total of 21 states that include anti-discrimination towards sexual orientation. A professor of law and religion at George Washington University makes the argument that having exceptions on the basis of accommodating religion would become a disconcerting pattern. He argues that to begin exceptions to public-accommodations have garnered serious problems. An example of this is not serving women without the accompaniment of men because it goes against their religion. The professor argues that these accommodations will

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