Issues of Religion Freedom in the U.S.
" Hammond reviews the early constitutional history and decisions of the Supreme Court: (1) the framers of the Constitution were agreed on the need to prevent the establishment of state-sponsored religion; (2) Protestant values and beliefs were the dominant culture in the late 18th century and are found in the decisions of the Supreme Court; (3) the accommodationists are correct that the Court in its decisions reflected a common cultural belief that "all religions are to be shown preference over non-religion" and that the free exercise clause was extended only to adherents to established and organized religious faiths and the free exercise clause embraced religious beliefs but not necessarily to religious-motivated actions which ran counter to prevailing sentiment; but also that (4) from the beginning of the Republic, a strong undercurrent existed which favored complete neutrality by the state in religious matters and at least some protection for freedom of conscience beyond the confines of established religions (3).

The Establishment Clause. Although a number of colonial legislatures subsidized religious institutions and although the dominant culture ethos incorporated Protestant beliefs and values, Hammond points out that church adherents were only about 17 percent of the colonial population and that Protest

 
 
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