The First Amendment to the US Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” As enshrined in the First Amendment, religious freedom includes two complementary protections: the right to religious belief and expression and a guarantee that the government neither prefers religion over non-religion nor favors particular faiths over others. These dual protections work hand in hand, allowing religious liberty to thrive and safeguarding both religion and government from the undue influences of the other.
The goal of the ACLU's work on freedom of religion and belief is to guarantee that all are free to follow and practice their faith – or no faith at all – without governmental influence or interference. The ACLU promotes religious freedom and works to ensure that government neither prefers religion over non-religion nor favors particular faiths over others. At the same time, we act to protect the equally important and related constitutional right to exercise and express religious beliefs and individual conscience.
By the Numbers
- 81%Eighty-one percent of Americans say the law should not allow companies or other institutions to use religious beliefs to decide whether to offer a service to some people and not others.
- 3,5003,500 groups make up the American religious landscape.
- All LouisianiansThe ACLU vigorously defends the rights of all Louisianians, from Christians to members of minority faiths, to practice their religion.