The amenability of churches to some governmental regulation is not seriously disputed. For example, few would protest the application to churches of laws prohibiting fraud in the sale of securities, requiring donated funds to be expended for the purposes represented, protecting copyright owners against infringement, or prohibiting activities that cause physical harm, property damage, or material disturbance to others. Similarly, churches routinely comply with municipal building codes and zoning regulations in the construction and location of worship facilities.
There is much less agreement concerning the degree to which churches should be subject to governmental regulation. The United States Supreme Court has observed:
The [First Amendment] embraces two concepts—freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be. Conduct remains ...
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