Religious Freedom

Religious freedom is a constitutional right that encompasses not only the right to believe (or not to believe), but also the right to express and to manifest religious beliefs as you see fit.

These rights are fundamental and should not be subject to the political process or majority vote.

The Constitution does not endorse any religious creed, and it does not recognize any power of government to decide theological questions.

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

Thomas Jefferson, January 1802

Where Religion Fits In

Beliefs about the nature of God are a proper subject for individuals, families, religious communities, and theologians, but not for government bodies such as the U.S. Congress or a local school board.

Religion is pervasive in the public square in the United States—and it is constitutionally protected. The ACLU has long defended individuals, families, and religious communities who wish to manifest their religion in public. The ACLU has supported the right of people to preach their religion in public places and to go door-to-door to spread their religious messages.

No other industrialized democracy has as much religion in the public square as does the United States.