Freedom of Religion Law and Legal Definition

Freedom of religion is based in the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution. The First Amendment provides that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Its application has been extended to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Controversy arises when a law is generally applicable and religiously neutral but nevertheless has the “accidental” or “unintentional” effect of interfering with a particular religious practice or belief.

Its purpose is to secure religious liberty in the individual by prohibiting any invasions of such liberties by civil authorities. Hoever, the Free Exercise Clause does not necessarily prevent government from requiring the doing of some act or forbidding the doing of some act merely because religious beliefs underlie the conduct in question.