The American Revolution was a radical experiment in liberty. Nowhere was its character more evident than in what Thomas Jefferson called a “novel innovation”—the First Amendment’s separation of church and state. The language was unmistakably direct: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
The First Amendment contains the establishment and the free exercise clauses. The establishment clause prevents the government from creating a church, endorsing a religion, or favoring one set of religious beliefs over another. The free exercise clause allows a person to hold whatever religious beliefs he or she chooses.
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