ERIC Number: ED223483
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Sep-27
Reference Count: 0
The Meaning of Religion: A Constitutional Perspective.
Lilly, Edward R.
The problems of formulating a legal definition of religion as used in the U.S. Constitution may be traced through the Supreme Court's interpretation of the word. According to the U.S. Constitution, religious tests cannot be required for any office or public trust under the central government. The Bill of Rights states that the national government may not establish a religion or prohibit its free exercise and the Fourteenth Amendment extends those restrictions to the states. Problems lie not only in interpreting the phrasing of the Constitution but also, particularly when deciding the status of conscientious objectors, what the term "religion" means. The Constitution has been interpreted as creating the separation of church and state and disallowing preferential status in law for religion or sponsoring religious activity. In "United States v. Seeger," the Supreme Court determined that the dictates of conscience are similar to deferring to the will of a traditional God. The Seeger case is a precedent which construes the definition of religion as the doctrinal, ethical, or ritualistic considerations to the ultimate concern in one's life, the belief in a faith to which all else is subordinated. (Author/KC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Supreme Court; United States v Seeger