Cases of Government Interference in A Citizen´s Free Exercise of Freedom

Decent Essays

The Supreme Court has interpreted the free exercise clause in many different ways. Today, people in the United States have the absolute freedom to believe what they choose but they may have to yield to the government in their religious conduct. In most instances, the government will not interfere with an adult’s practices as long as a minor is not in danger. The Supreme Court has deemed though, that if these practices endanger a minor, the minor cannot participate. Such cases include the right an adult as to refuse life-saving treatment cannot be applied to a minor. The government’s interest in saving a child’s life outweighs the freedom of religious practice. Another case in which the government may interfere with religious conduct is if the purpose of the law was not made to prevent the practice but merely occurred incidentally. This has occurred in Oregon, when the government banned peyote, a hallucinogenic drug used by Native Americans. The Supreme Court deemed that the law was meant to protect people from the powerful drug and it was not intended to infringe on the Native American practice. The last situation in which a government can interfere with religious conduct is if the act is a danger to public safety. As mentioned before, a case, Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, came before the Supreme Court regarding the Native American use of peyote in religious ceremonies. Oregon has a law banning the use of controlled substances

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