This week, STAND unveiled a unique resource designed to empower every individual to better understand and protect their own fundamental human rights.
The new Religious Freedom Resource Center contains an extensive Case Library dating back to 1813, with every decision and amicus brief downloadable, along with a detailed Glossary of legal, First Amendment and religious freedom terms. STAND commissioned the Resource Center’s authors—First Amendment experts, among them graduates of Harvard Law School and attorneys who have successfully argued landmark cases before the Supreme Court—to render a crucial but sometimes esoteric subject in plain language.
“STAND’s mission is to protect everyone’s basic, inalienable right to practice their chosen faith,” said STAND Director Bari Berger. “That means ensuring each and every person can take ownership of, understand and defend their own freedom of religion or belief—a fundamental human right whose contours must be comprehensible to all.”
As the Religious Freedom Resource Center’s home page beckons: “Each of us has a responsibility to protect and advance this fundamental human right. We hope the knowledge you gain here empowers you in that endeavor.”
“STAND’s mission is to protect everyone’s basic, inalienable right to practice their chosen faith.”
Knowledge to be gained includes an understanding of how aggressively the United States judicial system has championed and defended each American’s religious freedom over the centuries—a cause for which the Constitution itself laid the groundwork.
Accordingly, the introduction to the Resource Center’s Case Library highlights the following from the precedent-setting 1944 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Ballard: “The Fathers of the Constitution were not unaware of the varied and extreme views of religious sects, of the violence of disagreement among them, and of the lack of any one religious creed on which all men would agree. They fashioned a charter of government which envisaged the widest possible toleration of conflicting views. Man’s relation to his God was made no concern of the state. He was granted the right to worship as he pleased and to answer to no man for the verity of his religious views.”
The Resource Center’s authors continue: “The First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause—which provided a shield against government interference in religious practice and belief—was a concept and invention original to America and unlike anything the world had previously known. It is one of the United States’ greatest contributions: the ultimate rejection of the world’s history of religious conflict.
“It is one of the United States’ greatest contributions: the ultimate rejection of the world’s history of religious conflict.”
“Thanks to the First Amendment, no authority in the United States may decide whether any religious belief is ‘false,’ any religious practice a ‘deception,’ any faith favored or disfavored. As the first U.S. President memorably wrote to the small Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, ‘All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States ... gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.’”
“Scientologists have been fighting for religious freedom since our Church was founded in 1954,” said Berger. “It is a cause Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard, a human rights champion, built into the Creed of our religion. We are very proud to further that legacy with this invaluable resource.”