Lady Justice with Scales
Tonight we discuss our religious freedoms as afforded us as American citizens by our Constitution and the 1st and 14th amendments. This is a tricky topic. I know, I know! We have freedom of religion in our country, so that's that! Or is it? There are entire books written regarding this topic, and I will only cover the basic areas in this discussion, but before we start I need to make something clear. I am not an attorney. Nor do I play one on T.V.!!
But I have for many years taken an interest in the laws of our country and state and how they apply to me, and I personally feel every Wiccan, Pagan and Witch should have a working understanding of the laws that concern us. If we drive an automobile, we need to know the laws of the road right? Well then, if you have ever felt discriminated against because of your beliefs, the wise thing is to look up these laws and do a little research. Many of these laws are tested and strengthened in our court system and below I have included a reference listing of the court cases that have been tested over the years. I have also included a short bibliography of reference materials I used for this discussion.
Let us start at the beginning, and I mean the very beginning. Our Constitution of the United States of America, within the First Amendment states " Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"
What this means in my understanding is that Congress shall not pass any laws regarding religion, either for or against. Our right as American citizens, which allows our free practice of any religion or religious belief is protected by this amendment. It is important to note that the belief or practice does not require one to be part of any organized religion or belief system. It does not require one to believe in any singular supreme deity, and truly all religious beliefs, i.e. individualistic, indigenous, agnostic, polytheistic even atheistic beliefs all are given protection under the law as it stands.
George Bush (then Governor Bush) answered:
(Author's Note- As stated in the above discussion, I am not an attorney, nor do I have any legal training. The information above was compiled by myself during research for this topic over the years and for this discussion. Please always seek out a competent attorney or legal adviser for any legal needs you have. Please do not use the above information provided to make any determination as to your legal rights and status. I myself, although I have done much research on this topic over the years, would run to an attorney should I find or suspect that my rights have been violated or infringed upon. Witches can be pretty opinionated, some of us stubborn, and we tend to feel strongly about many things. But with today's technology and so many resources at our finger-tips we can also be highly educated and wise in the decisions we make. There are many out there with so much more knowledge than we have, seek them out.)
Ms. Faith McCann ~owner and Head witch of Enchantments a School for the Magickal Arts and Witch Shoppe, located in Manchester, CT USA and author of 'The Life and Times of a Contemporary New England Witch' witch blog
Court Cases used as background research for this discussion:
Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 113S.Ct 2217 (1993)
Frazee v. Illinois Dept. of Employment Security, 489 U.S. 829 (1989)
Callahan v. Woods, 658 f. 2d.679 (9thCir. 1981)
Employment Division, Dept. of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990)
Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963)
Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb (1993)
Lawson v. Dugger, 844 F. Supp. 1538 (S.D. Fla, 1994)
Walz v. Tax Commission, 397 U.S. 1 (1947)
Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)
Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)
Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228 (1982)
Police Dept. of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92 (1972)
Also see under RFRA 1993:
Campos v. Coughlin, 854 F. Supp. 194 (S.D.N.Y. 1994)
Western Presbyterian Church v. Board of Zoning Adjustment of District of Columbia, 849 F. Supp. 77 (D.D.C. 1994)
Additional Protection is provided by The Civil Rights Act of 1871-1978
American Indian Religious Freedom Act (1978)
Additional materials used for the basis of this discussion provided by:
The Witches Voice website www.witchvox.com and
Pagans and The Law Understanding your Rights by Dana D. Eilers Attorney and Pagan Activist
Please check out my newest blog The Life and Recipes of a Medieval Cook @ http://thelifeandrecipesofamedievalcook.blogspot.com
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