First Amendment and the Danbury Baptists

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

1st Amendment of the US Constitution

The Danbury Baptists wrote to Thomas Jefferson, concerned that the state was giving them the right to practice their religion: that it was not a natural – or inalienable right. The first amendment states emphatically that government can not regulate religion but does not state that religion is to be kept out of the public.


U.S. Constitution for Dummies by Dr. Michael Arnheim is a good source for understanding the Constitution. Explains it step-by-step. I am not crazy for the “for Dummies” part of the title, but it is very clearly written. (An aside: Don’t give as a present. I once thought I was helping my mother by giving her one of these books and didn’t realize until later the look on her face when she opened her present.)

Have a blessed weekend!