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Religious Liberty: The American Experiment


Religious Liberty: Landmark Supreme Cases

  • George Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island
  • Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
  • James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance 
  • Samuel Adams’ The Rights of Colonists
  • Freedom of Religion vs. Freedom of Association?

    In the 2010 case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the court ruled (5-4) that a student organization at a public university was not free to limit their members to those who shared their core religious viewpoints if that membership requirement resulted in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. What is your opinion on this ruling, and what is your constitutional reasoning?

    Learn more about the First Amendment and the case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez here:

    Freedom of Religion in France?

    In 2010, the French Parliament passed a law forbidding people, including visitors to the country, from covering their faces in public. The law makes exceptions for those who must cover their face as a condition of their work, including doctors who wear surgical masks and police in riot gear. While the law makes no mention of Islam, the law will effectively ban burgas and other full-body robes worn by Muslim women. Could this type of law be constitutional in the United States? Why or why not?

    Extension: Neither Snow nor Rain…

    Use this handout to discuss these mail delivery policies:

    • The Post Office does not recognize January 7th as a holiday; workers who celebrate Eastern Orthodox Christmas may take time off.
    • Zip code 92354 is the only place in the United States where mail delivery is on Sunday. The Post Office attempted to change the policy when the population of Seventh Day Adventists decreased, but even non-adherents voted to maintain the “not on Sunday” mail delivery policy in Loma Linda.
    • The Post Office recognizes all national holidays, including Thanksgiving.
    • The Post Office delivers mail on all Jewish holidays unless they fall on a Sunday; workers who are Jewish may take time off.
    • The Post Office delivers mail during Ramadan, except on Sunday; Muslim workers may take time off.

    Thank-you to our sponsor the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom

    The Bill of Rights Institute is grateful to
    The George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom 
    The Ambassador John L. Loeb Visitors Center at the Touro Synagogue, Newport, Rhode Island
    for making Religious Liberty: The American Experiment a reality.