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Government and Laws
related to religion and morality:

Government matters, political parties,
church-state separation, human rights, school prayer,
compulsory morality, human sexuality, etc. 


Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

Two caveats:

  1. Don't try to change your religion if you live in some counries. Some countries that have a state religion have laws making you eligible to be executed by the government after a trial, or by your family in an honor killing if you change your religion from the official belief system.

  2. Don't try to apply your religious beliefs in practice if it includes the need to discriminate against or to denigrate others. There may be human rights legislation in place that make such treatment a crime.

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The essays listed below deal almost exclusively with North American constitutional law.

Separation of church and state is mandated by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although this phrase is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the 1st Amendment as requiring such separation.

A similar principle has evolved largely through popular custom in Canada.

The result of this separation, in our opinion, has been a vigorous religious life coupled with a relative lack of religious persecution. Many countries have traditionally had closer links between state and religion. This has led (and continues to lead) to serious persecution of minority religions in many areas of the world. 



Sampling of U.S., Canadian, other country's, and international laws, covenants, and constitutional protections of freedom of religion


Canadian conflict over the Canada Christian College & School of Graduate Theological Studies

13th century U.S. law:


The termination of America's oldest freedom: habeas corpus

18th century U.S. laws:


Religious Discrimination in Early America

bullet1791 The First Amendment of the US Constitution

bullet1988 Williamsburg Charter on the First Amendment

bullet1786 Virginia's "Act for Establishing Religious Freedom"

bullet1777 Thomas Jefferson's bill for religious freedom in Virginia

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20th / 21st century U.S. laws and bills:

bulletFederal abortion laws:
bulletLaws restricting abortion

bulletParental notification and consent laws

bulletInterstate travel to abortion clinics

bulletThe "FACE" law

bulletUse of the RICO laws against pro-life groups

bulletThe "Born-alive Infants Protection Act"
bulletOther federal laws:
bulletReligious freedom and liberty (RFRA, RLPA, RLUIPA)

bulletWorkplace Religious Freedom Act *

bulletAnti-Genocide law (Proxmire Act)

bulletLaws restricting Internet content: (CPOA, CIPA, KIDS.US)

bullet Why we opposed the Communications Decency Amendment

bulletLaws oppressing or protecting homosexuals

bulletBill S. 1 of the 110th Congress to control paid stimulation of grassroots lobbying
bulletState laws:
bulletReligious discrimination in state constitutions

bullet Can Atheists be excluded from "an office or public trust?" "Torcaso v. Watkins"

bulletCriminalization of homosexual behavior

bulletDivination in North Carolina

bulletRitual sacrifice of animals in Florida and Texas
bulletSafe haven laws for abandoned newborns

bulletSex offenders: retributive justice may increase danger to society
bulletOther items:
bullet"God" and "Christianity" in the constitution of the European Union

bulletCongressional resolutions acknowledging American Muslims

bulletRecognizing religious holidays in Massachusetts

bulletReligious discrimination in the U.S. Postal Service

bulletHow legislators decide how to vote on bills with moral/ethical content

bulletOklahoma Republicans' resolution on morality, "debauchery" etc.

* Bill only

Church-state separation issues:

bulletThe "Wall of Separation" between church & state, and the Istook "Religious Freedom" Constitutional Amendment
bulletGuaranteeing personal religious freedom in the U.S.

bulletPetition to regain and preserve religious freedom

bulletRecent laws & court rulings affecting:

bullet Public Schools, libraries, School Boards:

A general introduction:

  • Part 1: Overview. Prayers during school instruction time. Two major U.S. Supreme Court rulings: Engel v. Vitale & Lemon v. Kurtzman.

  • Part 2: What the U.S. Constitution prohibits (Cont'd).

  • Part 3: What the U.S. Constitution allows. Enforcing religious rights. Factors to consider: prayers in school.

  • Part 4: Factors to consider about prayers in school (Continued). List of landmark court rulings.

bulletEqual Access Act regarding student clubs

bulletNon-profit groups:
bulletPolitical activities by churches & other non-profit groups

bulletState, and municipal government issues:
bulletReligious holidays

bulletReligious symbols in state & municipal displays, crests, mottos, logos, etc.

bullet Prayer at municipal and county council meetings

bulletReligious animal sacrifice in Florida

bulletMisc. court rulings

bulletChristian memorial crosses beside highways

bulletGovernment funding of religious groups:
bulletGovernment vouchers for religious schools

bulletCharitable choice programs

bulletOther items:
bulletReligious programming on TV

bulletHarry Potter: church/state and library censorship issues

bulletOrganizing religious and other clubs in public schools
bulletThe Ten Commandments#:

bullet Posting them in courts, schools etc.
bullet Detailed analysis of the text: what they really say.
bullet Recent news items
bulletGovernment mottos, pledges, and oaths in the U.S.:
bulletThe National Mottos:

bulletHistory and constitutionality of the  motto

bulletBasis, suitability and proposed uses

bulletPledge of Allegiance
bulletState mottos

bulletMunicipal government's symbols

bullet"So help me God" in court swearing-in ceremonies
bulletChurch/state separation issues

bullet'Witchcraft" in the Criminal Code of Canada

bulletGovernment interaction with religion

Government makeup and policy:

bulletReligious policy of the incoming U.S. President & Congress, 2000 to 2003

bullet Moral and religious aspects of the 2004 presidential election

bulletMoral aspects of the 2006 budget and state of the nation speech

bulletReligious aspects of the 2006 mid-term elections

bulletReligious aspects of the year 2008 presidential elections

Human rights issues, worldwide:

bulletLaws restricting hate speech

bulletThe 50th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

bulletUnited Nations' Declarations on Religious Intolerance

bulletUN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

bulletGovernment oppression of religion in Europe (1999)

bulletHuman rights in oppressive regimes

bulletProposed anti-discrimination law in New South Wales, Australia

bulletGenocides & mass crimes against humanity - often religion based

bulletHuman rights defined, denied and restored: State sovereignty vs. individual human rights

Government matters, political parties, etc.:

bullet Have the Democrats Lost Their Soul? An essay donated by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys
bulletHow judges and justices interpret constitutions and laws: Two main methods

bulletImpact of future appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court

bulletFilibustering in the U.S. Senate

bulletCopyright theft from our web site

bulletInformation on bills before Congress, contacting your senators or representative, etc.

bulletLegal aspects of faith healing

bulletThe American "Family Tree" of the National Constitution Center

bulletTaking the Congressional oath of office: religious aspects

See also statements on religious freedom and tolerance, in the U.S. and elsewhere.

External Links:


The text of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is at:


"Thomas", a service of the Library of Congress, provides federal legislative information online. See: 

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Last update: 2016_JUL-25

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