Freedom Of Religion Essay, Research Paper
Freedom of Religion gives one the right to practice their religion without it being
sanctioned by the state. Children should not be forced to salute the flag. The First
Amendment gives everyone the right of freedom of religion. This right should be
protected at all times. The pledge of allegiance is also not the best or only way of
showing faith in one?s country. The pledge should not be a requirement because of the
fact that it does not necessarily prove or disprove submission to the laws of the
country. The state does not have the right to require children to salute the flag because
the First Amendment protects freedom of religion and because saluting the flag is not a
suitable form of showing allegiance.
The First Amendment of the United States says that, ?Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof?? (US
Const.). The First Amendment of the Constitution was designed to protect people like
the Gobitis children from having their rights infringed. The religion of the Gobitis
children was that of the ?Jehovah?s Witness?. A key part to their religion was that ?the
Bible as the Word of God is the supreme authority.? (Minersville v. Gobitis). Thus to
the Gobitis children, saluting the flag was if they were bowing down before a graven
image and against their religion. The children were expelled from school for refusing to
salute the flag. Their father and the children were thus denied the right to public
education. Similar cases took place as other children refused to salute the flag based on
their beliefs. The First Amendment was meant to stop this discrimination. Why should
a religious group not be allowed to have the same privileges as another simply because
of their religious beliefs? According to Justice Stone, ?by this law the state seeks to
coerce these children to express a sentiment which, as they interpret it, they do not
entertain, and which violates their deepest religious convictions? (Minersville v.
Gobitis). Thus this law clearly violates the rights that these children had to have free
exercise of their religion. Justice Stone also said in his dissent that he does not believe
that the country is better served by their conformity to the observance than by their
religious liberty. The Constitution does not prescribe a pledge of allegiance, it does call
for freedom of religion. The First Amendment should protect the rights of those
children who wish not to salute the flag.
The pledge of allegiance is not a true indicator of respect of the government of the
United States. The state should thus not base the requirements for attending school
upon this pledge. The pledge of allegiance was a statement originally printed in 1892
by the magazine Youth?s Companion (Pledge). It was not written by a great political
figure, but merely a staff member of the magazine. As Justice Stone said about the
students, ?they are ready and willing to obey all the laws which do not conflict with
what they sincerely believe to be the higher commandments of God? (Minersville v.
Gobitis). The students believe in the country and its laws, why should a law that
violates their religion put them into exile? The supreme court has changed its ideas
about religion over time, so how can anyone decide what is right for the country?
(Freedom). The court eventually reversed its decision in the case of West Virginia State
Board of Education v. Barnette (Barnette). This decision stated that compelling the flag
salute and pledge, ?transcends constitutional limitations on the state?s power and
invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which? is reserved from state control by the
First Amendment (qtd. in Barnette). It is obvious that the actual pledge and not any
lack of loyalty was at issue as the parents in the Barnette decision offered substitute
pledges which did not make the flag an ?image? (Barnette). Children should not be
forced to salute the flag in school because the salute and pledge do not prove loyalty to
Children should not be forced to salute the flag. This act can in some cases undercut
their freedom of religion. If the child chooses not to do so, there should be no
punishment placed upon them.
?Barnette.? Internet. Online. ?http://www.fleurdelis.com/barnette.htm?. (Accessed
13 March 1998).
?Freedom of Religion.? Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Grolier.
Minersville School Dist. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586. 1940.
?Pledge of Allegiance.? Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-RO