Religion & Belief

Religion & Belief

In the United States of America, the First Amendment in our Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The goal of the ACLU’s work on freedom of religion and belief is to guarantee that all are free to follow and practice their faith – or no faith at all – without governmental influence or interference. Through litigation, public education, and advocacy, the ACLU promotes religious freedom and works to ensure that government neither prefers religion over non-religion nor favors particular faiths over others. At the same time, we act to protect the equally important and related constitutional right to exercise and express religious beliefs and individual conscience.

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Additional Resources

Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Society

ACLU Defense of Religious Practice and Expression: The ACLU vigorously defends the rights of all Americans to practice their religion, but because the ACLU is often better known for its work preventing the government from promoting and funding selected religious activities, it is sometimes wrongly assumed that the ACLU does not zealously defend the rights of all religious believers to practice their faith. The actions described here – over half of which were brought on behalf of self-identified Christians – reveal just how mistaken such assumptions are.

The ACLU and Freedom of Religion and Belief: An overview of the ACLU’s position on religious freedom as it applies to Religion in the Public Square and Religion in the Public Schools, as well as a brief summary of American History and Government-Funded Religion.

Protecting the Religious Freedom of Muslim (2011 feature)

Muneer Awad v. Paul Ziriax, Oklahoma State Board of Elections, et al. (2011 case)

Religous Practice and Expression in Public Schools: The ACLU vigorously defends the rights of all Americans to practice their religion and express their faith, including public school students. Below are examples of our advocacy over the past decade on behalf of students of a variety of faiths.

Most Popular

The ACLU and Religion: Don't Believe Everything You Read On the Internet (2009 blog)

ACLU Calls For End To Mandatory Prayer At U.S. Naval Academy (2008 press release)

Myths and Realities: Gravestones and Markers Are Not In Danger (pdf)

Discrimination Against Muslim Women - Fact Sheet (2008 resource)

The Mt. Soledad Latin Cross: Q&A (2006 resource)

NYCLU Sues Salvation Army for Religious Discrimination Against Employees in Government-Funded Social Services for Children (2004 press release)

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