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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

13thcentury U.S. law:


The termination of America's oldest freedom: habeas corpus

18th century U.S. laws:


Religious Discrimination in Early America

bullet 1791 The First Amendment of the US Constitution

bullet 1988 Williamsburg Charter on the First Amendment

bullet 1786 Virginia's "Act for Establishing Religious Freedom"

bullet 1777 Thomas Jefferson's bill for religious freedom in Virginia

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

bullet Federal abortion laws:
bullet Laws restricting abortion

bullet Parental notification and consent laws

bullet Interstate travel to abortion clinics

bullet The "FACE" law

bullet Use of the RICO laws against pro-life groups

bullet The "Born-alive Infants Protection Act"
bullet Other federal laws:
bullet Religious freedom and liberty (RFRA, RLPA, RLUIPA)

bullet Workplace Religious Freedom Act *

bullet Anti-Genocide law (Proxmire Act)

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

bullet Why we opposed the Communications Decency Amendment

bullet Laws oppressing or protecting homosexuals

bullet Bill S. 1 of the 110th Congress to control paid stimulation of grassroots lobbying
bullet State laws:
bullet Religious discrimination in state constitutions

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

bullet Criminalization of homosexual behavior

bullet Divination in North Carolina

bullet Ritual sacrifice of animals in Florida and Texas
bullet Safe haven laws for abandoned newborns

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

bullet Congressional resolutions acknowledging American Muslims

bullet Recognizing religious holidays in Massachusetts

bullet Religious discrimination in the U.S. Postal Service

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

bullet Oklahoma Republicans' resolution on morality, "debauchery" etc.

* Bill only

Church-state separation issues:

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

bullet Petition to regain and preserve religious freedom

bullet Recent laws & court rulings affecting:

bulletPublic 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.

bullet Equal Access Act regarding student clubs

bullet Non-profit groups:
bullet Political activities by churches & other non-profit groups

bullet State, and municipal government issues:
bullet Religious holidays

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

bullet Prayer at municipal and county council meetings

bullet Religious animal sacrifice in Florida

bullet Misc. court rulings

bullet Christian memorial crosses beside highways

bullet Government funding of religious groups:
bullet Government vouchers for religious schools

bullet Charitable choice programs

bullet Other items:
bullet Religious programming on TV

bullet Harry Potter: church/state and library censorship issues

bullet Organizing religious and other clubs in public schools
bullet The Ten Commandments#:
bullet Menu

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

bullet History and constitutionality of the  motto

bullet Basis, suitability and proposed uses

bullet Pledge of Allegiance
bullet State mottos

bullet Municipal government's symbols

bullet "So help me God" in court swearing-in ceremonies
bullet Canada:
bullet Church/state separation issues

bullet 'Witchcraft" in the Criminal Code of Canada

bullet Government interaction with religion

Government makeup and policy:

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

bullet Moral and religious aspects of the 2004 presidential election

bullet Moral aspects of the 2006 budget and state of the nation speech

bullet Religious aspects of the 2006 mid-term elections

bullet Religious aspects of the year 2008 presidential elections

Human rights issues, worldwide:

bullet Laws restricting hate speech

bullet The 50th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

bullet United Nations' Declarations on Religious Intolerance

bullet UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

bullet Government oppression of religion in Europe (1999)

bullet Human rights in oppressive regimes

bullet Proposed anti-discrimination law in New South Wales, Australia

bullet Genocides & mass crimes against humanity - often religion based

bullet Human 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
bullet How judges and justices interpret constitutions and laws: Two main methods

bullet Impact of future appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court

bullet Filibustering in the U.S. Senate

bullet Copyright theft from our web site

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

bullet Legal aspects of faith healing

bullet The American "Family Tree" of the National Constitution Center

bullet Taking 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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