"Freedom of religion means the right of the individual to choose
and to adhere to whichever religious beliefs he may prefer,
to join with others in religious associations to express these beliefs,
and to incur no civil disabilities because of his choice..."
Joseph L. Blau
(1909-1986) Professor Emeritus of Religion, Columbia University
Cornerstones of Religious Freedom in America 1949, quoted from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom
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Reader comments about this quote:
This is really just a paraphrase of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786): Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
 -- Freond, Northbrook, IL     
    Or the freedom to practice no religion at all.
     -- Anonymous     
    This goes for polygamists and for atheists as well.
     -- Guest     
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    There are reasons, I will not go into here, that would only support about a 3 star rating but, on its face and for discussion here, I give it 5 stars. Anonymous, by definition, the atheistic practice of no religion is religion ;-)
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Mike, religion has several meanings but for all practical purposes it includes a belief either in a god or in the teachings of a religious leader. I disbelieve in anything supernatural including gods but I don't like the definition of "atheist." It's not a realistic word just as 'aphilosopher' is not a word. Believe me, very few non-believers such as myself consider our beliefs have any relation to religion. Except, perhaps, that decent believers and non-believers alike share a respect for and practice what can be called the 'Golden Rule.'
     -- dick, fort worth     
  • 1
    If the Atheistic practice of no religion is a religion, then maybe the Lion's club or Rotary is a religion.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
    I do not think of atheism as a religion, but it is a philosophy/belief. A religion is a philosophy that includes a 'god.' Everyone has a philosophy of some sort -- as long as the 'practice' of it does not violate the rights of another, we should be free to follow it. Atheism, pantheism, polygamy, consensual sex between whomever, clubs, meetings, marches, singing, prayer, meditation, charity, selfishness, selflessness ... anything goes as long as the participants consent to it of their own free will and do not violate the rights of others. However, the compulsion to obey, follow, serve, sacrifice, attend, commit, or pledge oneself to a practice against one's own conscience is a violation of the highest order.

    We should recognize though that religion has always permeated civilization no matter how hard it is suppressed by rulers of opposing beliefs. The attempt to rid any connection to religion in the government is to attempt to erase the foundation of the 'law' itself. Whether God exists or not, the Ten Commandments did exist thousands of years ago, and is the foundation of canonical law which is the foundation of the law of the land. It is not so much religious as it is cultural and historical -- like the celebration of Christmas. Some atheists would insist that all symbols of religion be removed from public institutions -- they may be surprised to learn that EVERY common symbol from a circle, triangle, star, cross, you name it, has come from ancient religious origins. Washington DC is awash in ancient religious symbolism -- heck, the Capitol building is a temple! So good luck with that... ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    dick, I posted this a few days ago, maybe it will help. A god, extraneous to mans immediate senses may or may not be helpful in determining a religion. Religion is, real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to . . . our fellow men. (Bouviers Law Dictionary) Webster's New World Dictionary -Fourth College Edition states, religion is:
    a) any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy [the Christian religion, the Buddhist religion, etc.]
    b) any system of beliefs, practices, ethical values, etc. resembling, suggestive of, or likened to such a system [humanism as a religion] ⋯ any object of conscientious regard and pursuit.
    As such, religion is then, the conscientious regard and pursuit, based on a motivating object of moral, ethical, or a systematic belief. Not the belief specifically but, the pursuing systemic actions that follow. Buddhism, Christianity, humanism are at their core not religions but rather, philosophies. It is when that / any philosophy offers a moral imperative or belief / an ideology, and then through conscientious regard and pursuit becomes the bases for action, is there a religion. By way of example: it is moral to offer medical care, feed the hungry, cloth the poor, define marriage, describe ethical conduct, etc. It is the conscientious regard and pursuit thereof that is religion. When religion is governed by a statist body with threat of force, that is a theocracy.

    The atheist movement in the U.S. has done a good job in obscuring the meaning of many words, one such is religion. It is hard to smear religion on moral, ethical, or other comparative reasons and then call yourself a religion also. For an atheist to call his actions of putting down other religions a religion, it would be self deprecating. It is not the philosophy of atheism or the non-belief in an extra human entity that defines a religion. It is the idealistic motivation or conscientious regard and pursuit thereof that is religion. The Lion's club or Rotary could be stand alone religions or just a facilitator of individual religious beliefs.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    E Archer, Every common symbol actually came from Pagan origins, including those of Christmas and Easter.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
    jim, way to accurate way to often. The bunny, the egg, the tree, etc. are symbolism(s) from a myriad of other religions and commercial adventures. A common misunderstanding of religion comes from social observation. That being religious people will attend a social gathering of like minded others - ahh - religion. Thus the second half of the above quote. Though there were other reasons for settling the US, the primary driving force was religious freedom. People came in groups or to groups. Financial reasons later drove immigration but, still with a look to associate in communities (formally organized churches became somewhat synonymous with religion) The individual man is a religious being (seeking moral or ethical rationalizations, generally gravitating to an acceptable system or a place where he may seek his personal beliefs and philosophies through conscientious regard and pursuit). At man's religious pursuits, he often attempts to justify or, build upon an extra human phantasm (a god, nature, as jim so accurately put it - talking snakes ;-), etc. ; again, the extra human phantasm may or may not be helpful in determining an individual's religion) Man is also a social creature - combining man's inherent religion with his social desires or needs then lends itself to blending of the two. In fact, the two are separate and distinct, one not defining the other. Individually acting upon a moral belief, ethics, a philosophy of betterment or what should be with conscientious regard and pursuit defines the religion of Atheism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, humanism, etc. Such isms also get in the way of understanding what religion is; thus, though I identify myself as a Christian - most accurately, it is the religion of Mike.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Don't forget that DC has the right to define what is a religion.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     

    cal, governments have no rights at all, governments have duties only. The de jure States united was initiated with an unchangeable jurisprudence; that is: "the laws of nature and of nature's God" (Declaration of Independence). The occupying statist theocracy infesting this land does not accept or apply that law (philosophy or application). If the occupying statist theocracy defines religion consistent with natural law (Constitutional law) then it would be a legitimate undertaking. If that body defines religion contrary to "the laws of nature and of nature's God" it is simply another tyrannous expletive.

     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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