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Churches and Religious Freedoms Laws: A 50-State Survey

Orienting church leaders on the key federal and state laws and court decisions affecting religious exercise.

This article was adapted exclusively for Church Law & Tax Advantage Members from the 50-State Religious Freedom Laws Report, a downloadable resource available on ChurchLawAndTaxStore.com. Advantage Members who log in to the store receive 20-percent off of their purchase.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This language has been foundational to the religious liberty that millions of people have enjoyed in this country for nearly 250 years.

In those nearly 250 years, though, two key developments have unfolded through numerous decisions made in our nation’s courts.

First, the protection of religious belief is considered absolute. The government cannot make an individual or church believe—or not believe—something, nor can it create ...

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Matthew Branaugh is editor of content and business development for Church Law & Tax at Christianity Today. He earned his juris doctor (JD) with honors from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

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  • June 8, 2020

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