It's not hard to argue that the ideal of freedom of religion in America is a fundamental part of the American ideal of freedom. It's part of the story of America's founding, and there are several protections in law to ensure that the freedom continues to be enjoyed.
The protections were built into the constitution and have had several updates since.
So then why is that there are an increasing number of news stories that indicate that this freedom is constantly under threat?
And yet, at the same time, there is also increasing evidence of increases in both the variety of religious views held, and the growth of atheism or a preference for "spirituality" vs organized religion for theists.
To his credit, in his inauguration address of 2008, President Obama made a point of correctly pointing out that freedom of religion includes the concept of freedom from religion.
This was more than just stating the obvious. It was an acknowledgement and awareness of the changes going on in American society.
As the number of atheists have grown, their confidence in public identification has grown with them. Atheist organizations have sprung up and made themselves known with billboards and other ads in prominent places.
Yet atheists face an uphill battle.
Despite the proliferation of religious references and church signs seemingly everywhere, the ability of atheists to use their rights to freedom of expression are challenged all too often.
And then of course is the lack of tolerance all too often displayed towards people who are religious, but not Christian. Muslims take the brunt of that public negativity all too often. And before them, Jews were often the target.
Wherever you may find yourself on the religious spectrum, you've got to admit these are interesting, sometimes unpredictable times.
So where are we at?
Is religious tolerance increasing or decreasing?
Is there less freedom when it comes to religion?
News stories may help shed some light on the current state of freedom of religion in America....
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Amazingly, the US Supreme Court has decided that an employer has the right to refuse health insurance coverage for birth control pills, due to "freedom of religion" - for the employer!
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