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Impact of the First and Fourteenth Amendments on Religious Freedoms Essays

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Religion is an essential and complex facet of the American psyche. It plays a key role in supporting the ideal of American exceptionalism and has done so from Independence to the present day. Religion also plays a role in national identification through the “Americanisation” of religion. The emergence of transcendentalism, cults, evangelical sects, and Christian Zionism have all been a result of both the “Americanisation” of faith and American exceptionalism. The importance of religion to America as a nation, means that religion is granted certain freedoms that make passing laws regulating it difficult. The first and fourteenth amendments essentially protect the establishment of any religion as well as protecting the freedom to exercise this religion, whilst creating a distinctly separate Church and State. The religious freedom granted in these amendments has changed over time, though not extensively.

Transcendentalism was the first uniquely American spiritual philosophy. It emerged in the late 1820s as a radically democratic response to religion in the wake of the disestablishment of state religion. It rejected many of the constructs of modern America in the Industrial age and encouraged one to be socially conscious, promoting opposition to slavery and support for women’s suffrage. It is because of the religious freedoms granted to Americans in the first amendment that a religious movement like this is able to emerge. Transcendentalism helped vocalise many of the ideals so valued in modern America. Through his 1855 version of “Song of Myself” Walt Whitman embodies the American national through a transcendentalist frame. The notion of what it means to be an American is expressed through the recurring image of the leaf o...


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...by Paul Thomas Anderson, United States of America, Annapurna Pictures , 2012
Van Schaick vs. Church of Scientology , 535F. Supp. 1125 (D. Mass, 1982).
Jean G. Zorn, “Cults and the Ideology of Individualism in First Amendment Discourse”, Journal of Law and Religion, 7, 2, (1989), p. 494-495.
Jean G. Zorn, “Cults and the Ideology of Individualim” p. 500-501.
Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind , ( Michigan: Wm. B Berdmans Publishing Co., 1994) p. 4.
Roe vs. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)
Paul Boyer, ed. Bruce J. Schulman and Julian E. Zelizer, “The Evangelical Resurgence in 1970s American Protestantism,” in Rightward Bound, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008.) p,41.
Paul Boyer, “The Evangelical Resurgence in 1970s American Protestantism”, p,47.
Paul Boyer, “The Evangelical Resurgence in 1970s American Protestantism”, p,49.


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