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Freedom to Worship: An Analysis of Freedom of Religion in the United States and Sweden.

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Introduction

Freedom to Worship: An Analysis of Freedom of Religion in the United States and Sweden Nicole Ellen Colraine and Marisol Gonzalez Government 20 04/13/2004 What does it mean to be an American? Well, the word "American" is interpreted differently from person to person. When thinking of what an American is, some feel that events such as sitting around the Thanksgiving table, children dressed up in their best Sunday clothes for Easter service, and Fourth of July parades are truly representative of American culture. We conjure up images of the marchers in Washington, who are protesting against the government or for policy reform. We think of America as the melting pot of faces of all colors and languages, coming together to form one nation. When political scientists consider what it really means to be an American citizen, they think in terms of political culture. An important element of Americas' political culture is an unyielding faith in God. Political culture is defined as a wide set of views, beliefs, and values that address what is the role of government, what is and is not acceptable in society, how society should be structured, how people should be involved in politics, and so forth. Furthermore, America, like every country, has a distinct political culture, one that defines what it truly means to be an American. America's political culture has evolved from it's origins as a cluster of fledging colonies battling Great Britain for their ultimate independence to the country that we are today. American political culture is based on liberty, equality, it's based on democracy, it's based on capitalism and it's based on a variety of beliefs in God. America is quite unusual in that large proportions of our public believe that a God true exists who's presence is integral in every waking moment of the day. Thus, as Americans, vast majorities believe and strongly tout the significance of religious activity. ...read more.

Middle

In 1968, for example, Tennessee had prohibited the teaching of the theory of evolution - however, the court deemed this to be unconstitutional and therefore denied their case. In 1987, Louisiana had tried something different -- It stated that "You can teach evolutionism, that's fine. But you have to teach creationism with it ... the theory of the Christian and Jewish Bible of the Old Testament." (Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) The court rejected this case on the grounds that violated the Lemon Test -- there was no secular purpose in this situation. It may seem, from the previous examples, that deeply hostile to religion. On the contrary, there's lots of room in schools for religious belief and religious groups. Religious groups, like any other groups, have access to schools. They can use school classrooms; they can use them after hours, given whatever requirements the school has for any other group. Clearly, students can gather informally to pray, to read religious text, and the like, and when appropriate, students can write about their religious feelings, spiritualism, and so forth. As mentioned before, Congress is prohibited in interfering with the free exercise of religion ... however, what is the exactly is role of the state? One example of state intervention can be seen in an 1878 case that had to deal with Mormons in Utah. Part of the belief of Mormons is the practice of polygamy, that is to say one man having more than one wife at the same time. What the court ruled was that Congress can indeed ban the practice of polygamy. However, the state does not have the jurisdiction to decide as to what Mormons must believe. In spite of this, the state does have the authority to ban a practice that is banned for every citizen of the state, without interfering with the free exercise of their religion. ...read more.

Conclusion

concerned with the effect that a separation between church and state would have on the protestant church financially, when the general population was no longer required to pay the church tax. These parish councils also worried that the separation of church and state would ultimately give more power to active churchgoers and consequently make the church less open and democratic, which the church had needed to be in the past in order to somewhat encompass the views of an entire nation. Ironically, though the official separation between church and state only took place as of 2000, the Swedish government was adamant about its citizen's accepting other religious views. They are and have been extremely intolerant of segregation or racism amongst religious minorities. Also though the protestant church was the official church in Sweden until 2000, the Swedish constitution provided freedom of religion beforehand and the government strived to respect this right. The government also granted exemption from the 'church tax' routinely at tax payers' demands before the new law to separate church and state was officially passed. Though the government's intolerance of ethnic discrimination seems somewhat in disaccord with their apparent religious limitations, there is a sector of the government simply dedicating to investigating claims of ethnic discrimination. Furthermore for several years the government has supported groups working to combat anti-Semitism. As well as a national education project began in 1998 to educate children on the reality of the holocaust. Also in public schools religious education is part of an overall schedule of compulsory coursework. It seems somewhat ironic that in a government where religious beliefs and practices were limited for such a long period of time the government is so actively dedicated to educating their citizens on diversity and ethnic tolerance, in turn leading the people to be more accepting. Whereas in a country like the United States were religious freedom has always been our way of life, we deal daily with racism and discrimination of religious minorities as well as ethnic minorities. ...read more.

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