the requirement that contraceptive services be covered in insurance plans provided to employeesof Catholic institutions.A review of various state constitutions in colonial times provides some insight into theoverall feeling of the time period regarding what freedom of religion entailed. In general,verbiage included in these constitutions explicitly protect
ed this freedom as long as it didn’t
infringe upon the rights of others.
There were actually few religious exemptions granted inearly American history, but this should not give the idea that they were not permitted nor shouldit give an impression that this issue was not an important one. In reality, the government has notalways been as hostile to the idea of religion as it has become in present day America. Congresstook this issue seriously when it passed various laws that might restrict the right of Americans topractice their religion.
However, there have been instances of religious persecution throughout American history
and it was not until the middle of the twentieth century that the freedom to practice one’s religion
again became a widely accepted concept.
At this time, a standard was developed to determineif the free exercise clause had been violated in a particular case. The
“compelling state interesttest”
stated that a purely secular law, neutral in its intent, may only restrict the free exercise of religion if it can be shown that the government had a compelling reason to do so.
allowed protections of the Amish’s desire to remove their children from public high schools
5. Thomas C. Berg,
The First Amendment: The Free Exercise of Religion Clause
, Bill of rights series(Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2008), 100.6. Ibid., 102.7. Ibid., 19.8. Stephen V. Monsma and J. Christopher Soper,
The Challenge of Pluralism
, second ed. (Lanham, MD:Rowman & Littelfield Publishers,, 2009), 24.