Pros And Cons Of The First Amendment

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The First Amendment is split into two clauses, establishment and free exercise. The establishment clause states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." In other words, government cannot favor or support any religion. The other aspect of the Amendment is the Free Exercise Clause, which prohibits congress from making any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. In 2005, Prisoners in Ohio state prison filed a lawsuit against the prison officials on the ground that a federal law violation was occurring when the prisoners were refused permission to practice their own religions including Satanism, Wicca, and Asatru. The federal law being violated by the prison officials is The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA). RLUIPA is an act created to protect prisoners by prohibiting government to act through prisons or prison officials, to restrict any religious exercise of the prisoners, unless the restriction was to achieve a compelling state interest. The prisoners felt the government was prohibiting their right to free exercise, which is in violation of the act. In addition, the prisoners felt the reason for burden was because of their religions did not fit mainstream beliefs. In response, the prison officials pleaded that RLUIPA was equivalent to government furtherance of religion and in violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which forbids such advocacy
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