The Influence Of John Locke On Freedom Of Religion

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Freedom of Religion
The First Amendment was written in 1791 by James Madison who was influenced by Thomas Jefferson. The first part of the First Amendment says, “Congress should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” There are two parts to this first part of the First Amendment. The first part of this is saying, Congress is not allowed to make an established religion for America. The government was not allowed to make a religion that everyone would have to pay to, or have one religion that the government supported. The second part of this is saying that the government can’t interfere with a citizen’s practice of religion and that the government has no
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Locke was a major influence to the founding fathers, who came almost two-hundred years after him. Locke wrote passionate pamphlets detailing individuals’ rights and the governmental constraints. He argued that each person had the right to be seen as equal and independent in the way they thought and lived. Locke also said that each person had the right to defend his life, liberty and possessions. If the government tried to take away their God given rights, they had the justification to remove or overthrow said government. Alongside of what a government can and cannot do, John Locke felt strongly about the ability of each person to make their own religious choice. Locke said that God never meant for one man to have the authority over another man’s religious beliefs or how he affiliated them (Locke). He said that no man can thoughtlessly leave his own beliefs and salvation up to another person’s will (Locke). True religion and faith, is the act of an inward change in one’s heart and mind. “Faith is not faith without believing” (Locke). Locke believed that the government had no right in forcing a religion on anyone. Instead he felt that doing so would be completely meaningless because no one can be forced to believe something they truly don’t

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