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
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
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.