1789 September 21

Congress Agrees to Religion Clauses in the First Amendment


Congress on this day agreed to add the two religion clauses to the proposed First Amendment to the Constitution. The two clauses are the Establishment of Religion clause and the Free Exercise of Religion clause.

The most important Supreme Court case on the Establishment Clause is Engel v. Vitale on June 25, 1962, in which the Court held that mandatory school prayer in public schools is unconstitutional. The landmark case on the Free Exercise of Religion is Cantwell v. Connecticut, decided on May 20, 1940.

The First Amendment: “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.”

Learn more about the two religion clauses: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/category/religion

Learn more about the Establishment Clause: Jeremy Gunn and John Witte, No Establishment of Religion: America’s Original Contribution to Religious Liberty (2012)

Learn more at American United for Separation of Church and State: https://www.au.org/

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