First Amendment: Religion—Free Exercise

Students will examine the protections enshrined in the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. Students will use the Interactive Constitution to examine the Free Exercise Clause’s text and history and how the Supreme Court has interpreted it over time. In this lesson, students compare and contrast the questions, opinions, and dissents in a series of Supreme Court cases to define when the Free Exercise Clause does and does not limit government action.

Essential Questions:

  • Why did the Founders write the Free Exercise Clause into the Constitution?

  • How has the Supreme Court’s application of the Free Exercise Clause changed over time?

Get Started:

Freedom of Religion Video Part Two:  Classroom Materials:



Download the Lesson Plan

Explore The Interactive Constitution:

Common Interpretation Matters of Debate

By Frederick Gedicks and Michael McConnell

Religious Liberty Is Equal Liberty
By Frederick Gedicks

Free Exercise: A Vital Protection for Diversity and Freedom
By Michael McConnell


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