Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateB, March 1997

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In this paper I will describe the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This Act was

used to contradict the decision of the court case of Employment Division v. Smith, which

allowed the government to forbid any religious act without giving a reason. The RFRA

brought back the requirement that the government provide an adequate reason to forbid

any religious act. The government once again had to show that the act was of compelling

interest against the state.

In 1993 one of the most important acts that has gone thorough Congress was

passed (Religious Freedom, Map of the RFRA). This was the Religious Freedom

Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 (Religious Freedom, Map of the RFRA). This act was

passed to answer the 1990 court case Employment Division v. Smith (Questions and

Answers, Map of the RFRA). Employment Division v. Smith was a court case in which

the issue was whether "Sacramental use of peyote by members of the Native American

Church was protected under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, which

provides that 'Congress shall make no law...prohibiting

the free exercise of

religion'."(Questions and Answers, Map of the RFRA). According to Justice Scalia, "if

prohibiting the exercise of religion was merely the incidental effect of a generally

applicable and otherwise valid provision, the First Amendment was not offended."

(Questions and Answers, Map of the RFRA). Thus,

"...the government no longer had to justify most burdens on religious

exercise. The free exercise clause offered protection only if a particular

religious practice was singled out for discriminatory treatment. In short,

free exercise was a sub category of equal protection. This placed religious

rights in an inferior position to other First Amendment rights such as

freedom of speech and press." (Questions and Answers, Map of the


This court case caused...