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Free Exercise Clause

The First Amendment to the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Through its free exercise clause, the First Amendment protects against governmental interference, the individual’s right to freedom of conscience, free expression of religious beliefs, and the right to practice the religion of one’s choosing or no religion at all.

The free exercise clause enables a person to hold whatever religious beliefs he or she wants and to exercise that belief by attending religious services, praying in public or in private, proselytizing or wearing religious clothing such as yarmulkes or headscarves. Also included in the free exercise clause is the right not to believe in any religion and the right not to participate in religious activities.

The United States Constitution, What It Says, What It Means, A Hip Pocket Guide