Freedom of Religion

Freedom of Religion


Welcome to LawShelf’s video-course on freedom of religion. This course focuses on the first two clauses of the First Amendment to the US Constitution: the clauses prohibiting the government from “establishing” a national religion and the clause preventing the government from “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This course focuses, in roughly equal parts, on these two clauses and how they are interpreted and applied.

 This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge of law or government is required.

 The course opens with a discussion of the historical context of the First Amendment and an explanation of the two clauses and where they apply. We’ll also discuss the legal standards under which freedom of religion are analyzed and discuss the important differences between religious beliefs and religious practices.

 Modules 2 and 3 focus on the free exercise clause. We’ll look at cases that have analyzed laws that target religious groups and those that have disproportionate impacts on particular religious groups. We’ll also discuss the principle that practicing religion does not mandate that the government exempt adherents from laws of general applicability. Module 3 looks at the application of free exercise clause jurisprudence on a variety of rights informed by religious beliefs, including refusing medical treatment and conducting religious meetings and services.

 Module 4 segues to the establishment clause, first focusing on tests that are used to determine whether government laws or policies are considered to be enforcements of religion. We’ll also look at cases involving religious monuments, at government voucher programs that can be used at religious schools and at cases involving school prayer.

 Module 5 concludes the course with a look at a variety of recent cases involving freedom of religion. We’ll look at cases involving the usage of “in God we Trust” on currency and Ten Commandment monuments on government property. We’ll also look at President Trump’s travel ban and exemptions from the Affordable Care Act in the Hobby Lobby case. We’ll also look at the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which analyzed whether exemptions to civil rights rules must be carved to protect asserted religious freedom.

 This course should give you a firm understanding of both freedom of religion and freedom from religion under the provision that the “founding fathers” thought important enough to put at the very beginning of the Bill of Rights.

 Best of luck and we welcome your feedback.



What is a video-course?

A LawShelf video-course is an in-depth series of presentations on a discreet legal topic. LawShelf video-courses focus on practical legal information and applications and are each designed to familiarize the viewer with a legal topic quickly and efficiently.

Who should take a video-course?

Our video courses are designed for professionals such as attorneys, paralegals, corporate officers and financial professionals, as well as laypeople looking to deepen their knowledge of particular areas of law. The courses allow you to acquire the specific knowledge and skills that you need without the expense and time commitment of going “back to school” for a degree. 

How do I learn?

Video courses are divided into 5 or 6 modules.  Each module contains a video lesson (usually about 15 minutes long) and a series of self-test questions that you can use to practice and make sure that you understand the material.

How do I complete a video-course?

To complete a video-course, you must pass a 10-question multiple-choice examination by scoring 70% or higher.  The questions on the exam are randomly selected from the self-test question sets for the various modules. You can retake an exam as many times as you need to, though you will not get the same questions each time since the questions are drawn from an exam bank.

How long will it take me to complete a video-course?

Between watching the modules, doing the self-test practice questions, reviewing the material and taking the final exam, we estimate that completing a video-course requires a time investment of 4-5 hours.  The courses are designed to get straight to the point. We’re cognizant that your time is valuable, and we condense the information you need to know to comprehensively cover a subject into as little time as practical.

Is there limit to how many video-courses I can take or complete?

No. A LawShelf subscription enables you to access any and all LawShelf content, including all video-courses. You can take courses as quickly or slowly as your time allows.

Do I receive any recognition for completing a video-course?

Once you complete the course by passing the final exam, you will be awarded a digital badge to display as evidence of your training and accomplishment.

How will a digital badge help me? 

Modern educational trends are moving away from traditional classroom-based course completion models and towards skills-based education. Employers today care more about skills than ever before. LawShelf digital badges conform to the Open Badge standard and are verifiable records of your skills that can easily be shared online.

How long do I retain access to the course materials?

You retain access the modules and take the final exam as long as you are a subscriber to LawShelf.

The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses - Module 1 of 5

The Free Exercise Clause - Module 2 of 5

The Free Exercise Clause in Specific Contexts - Module 3 of 5

Establishment Clause in Specific Contexts - Module 4 of 5

Recent Freedom of Religion Jurisprudence - Module 5 of 5

Final Exam only needs to be taken by those seeking to earn the Digital Badge credentials for this course.