Friday, January 11, 2013

First Freedom Video

Back on 18 December 2012, PBS aired a video First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty.  The video tells of the history behind the First Amendment, going back to the early pilgrims and tracing the development of religious freedom amidst religious persecution in the colonies.  You can watch it here.

The video shows how the religious freedom that emerged in colonial America is strikingly different from the European experience.  It also shows how certain aspects of colonial America, such as religious pluralism across the colonies, created conditions under which laws protecting religious freedom could emerge.

The video does less well in examining certain subtleties.  For example, religion, just like speech and other protected rights, are still regulated to some degree.  Do religious persons have the right to avoid taxes, avoid military service, educate their children outside of the public education sector, wear any kind of clothing, or sacrifice animals as part of their religious practice?  These kinds of behaviors can be challenged.

So use the video for historical background on the First Amendment but not for a more general examination of religious freedom.

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