When Does The US Legally Recognize A Religion?


The first amendment protects our freedom of
religion, but it doesn’t say anything about how a group in the US legally goes from being
an organization to being a religion. So, how does that work? Well, the short answer is, it doesn’t. There
is no actual way for the US Government to legally recognize a religion. “But Tara, with
Hobby Lobby the Supreme court said”- No. Let me explain. The First Amendment states that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” So outside of acknowledging that religions
exist, the amendment doesn’t give the Government the power to do anything. It’s just gives
them the obligation to not do things, namely establish or prohibit religion. By implication, it also prevents the Government
from elevating any one religion over another, because that would count as establishing one
religion and, by extension, prohibiting others. So, they can’t even make a list of approved
religions. Which begs the question, how can you protect the rights of something you can’t
officially recognize? That’s the thing about the US constitution.
It’s designed to protect the rights of US citizens, including their freedom of religion.
But it’s NOT designed to protect their specific religion and it’s definitely not designed
to protect their religious institution. It’s the difference between protecting someone’s
belief in Catholicism and protecting the Catholic church. You see, the Supreme Court sees religion as
“a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel
to the place held by God in the lives of other persons.” And that is what the freedom of religion protects,
your right to believe and practice whatever religion you want. If an organization is using those beliefs
and practices to form a religion, that’s fine, but it’s those beliefs and practices that
are being protected – not that religious organization. So, there’s no legal official way to become
a religion, but there doesn’t have to be. All religious beliefs – big or small – are
protected. So pray on, prayer. If you wanna hear how freedom of religion
is implemented in the real world, then watch our video on the recent Hobby Lobby ruling
by the Supreme Court. If you found this show informative, please subscribe. And remember
– we release new episodes 5 days a week. So any help we can get spreading the word is
much appreciated.

100 comments

  1. Do I have the right to beat my wife and kill those that convert out of my religion? …. because that's technically practicing my religion if I'm a Muslim

  2. The First Amendment is not about religion, speech, press, assembly, or redressing the government over grievances.  It is about the expression of thought.  To think of it this way the issue becomes less muddled.  The Court has held that you can have any thought  that you want and that  the government cannot do anything about that, largely in part because they do not know what thoughts you actually have as they are internal to your mind.  They can only go based on your expression of those thoughts.  The words you write or speak or  the acts that you perform.  

    If it is about the expression of thought then nearly everything becomes covered unless and until it violates someone else's rights.  Sadly this is not the case and all too often people encourage bad laws so that they are not exposed to opinions they disagree with rather than just walking away (or changing the radio/tv channel) and ignoring the things they dislike.  Those same people become shocked when another group decides to push for a ban on something they like.  You cannot ban things without opening the door for someone else to come in and ban the things that you hold dear.

    If people would just stop trying to control how everyone else lives their lives and set the demarcation point of government power at protecting the rights of the people and nothing else then a lot of the issues currently being debated in the political sphere would vanish.  It is both main parties, most activists, several smaller parties, basically the bulk of the US is trying in some way to force others to conform to their choices in life.  

  3. So the US can't favor one religion over another? Good. Why, then, are there hints of favoring monotheism over other religions? For example, our money says "In God We Trust". Shouldn't it say, "In God, Buddha, Vishnu (and the thousands of other Hindu gods and goddesses), Confucius, etc, We Trust"? Shouldn't it cater to the 4,000 religions besides Christianity? Or, a much simpler solution would be to take religious messages and influences from things like money, oaths, and the Pledge of Allegiance. Freedom of religion does not mean freedom to force others to adapt to your religion.

  4. All religion is is an idea, nothing more and nothing less.  It is an idea on belief and practice; essentially how you should live your life.  And because it is an idea, any one person can shape that idea and use it for their own meanings.  

  5. So pretty much if a Rastafarian gets charged with possession of pot he can pretty much not get in trouble for it because his religion uses marijuana in a holy manner?

  6. Religion is nothing than a belief in higher power. PERSONAL belief. If you attack people or try to shove your religion by force by telling others that they will burn in hell if they won't believe in a particular religion, You are fucked up in the brain. If you kill people for your fucking personal belief – you are permenantly raped in the brain. Keep it to your self and stop judging others. Everyone can believe in whatever the fuck they want to believe, back the fuck off from other people, keep your shit to yourself.

  7. Hey, she was from Rev3games! You can watch her play GTA V and curse. Smart Newslady, gamer, and attractive? People like that are rare

  8. You left out a very large point. Regardless of what Justice Scalia says, not only must the government treat all religions the same it must treat religion and non-religion the same.

    See Wallace v. Jaffee. "Moreover, the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all."

  9. gloomy forecast, long story short, we're screwed. hopefully it won't end up that way. as an unaffiliated, I would prefer if more people would come on the side of common sense and reason.

  10. >supreme court says freedom of religion is held by god in the lives of the person or persons
    I have a problem with this, considering my religion doesn't have a god (and no, atheism alone is not a religion), does that mean I don't have religious freedom?

  11. I have my own personal religion of God, our Creator. Mine is not a manmade religion and I do not go door-to-door trying to gain membership, like those other man-made religious cults continue to do. Why should they be allowed to confront me and try to change my beliefs thru threats of harm and vengeance, like Moron elders tried on the last Saturday of April. They are friggin' Nuts & should be locked away at Medical Lake Mental Hospital 'til they get normalcy re-established in their faulty thinking ego-driven minds.

  12. Wait, nothing you said explains how the US decides which churches get tax exemption. (Frankly I think it's all BS and no church should ever be exempted from taxation, they are a business and they're selling fairy tales)

  13. "America was founded a Christian nation". Next asshole who says this crap is getting stabbed in the eyes.

  14. Well that's true, but the IRS does have a definition of religion since it marks certain groups as "tax-exempt for being a religion". I'm curious to see how it does that.

  15. When it recognizes our politicians are the supreme source of morality rather than God.  This is why Evolution is taught in the public (government) schools.  Evolution is NOT science, it is religion.

  16. And so this is why the satanists were able to establish their hold in USA. Nice job breaking it, hero. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NiceJobBreakingItHero

  17. You guys used a red Taj Mahal to indicate a mosque, lol. The Taj Mahal is not a mosque, it is a glorified mausoleum, which has two graves at it's core.
    Is there any video of yours that was not made in a hurry?

  18. The U.S. screams 'LOL GUISE LOOK AT OUR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND ST8' when it took them until last fucking month to unanimously approve gay marriage because of brainwashed conservative Christians.

  19. There is no freedom,there are no rights unless you're catholic.All other religions are discriminated.Because surely catholicism makes more sense,because it says so in the bible

  20. i assume you could make a list of known religions that have been documented and seen before like "this religion has been seen here because belivers were practicing it ergo this is a seperate religion that is not affiliated that we have identified with others unless new information is noticed"

  21. why the fuck do you push christians up the scale and push every other riligioniminating christians stop discr down we are disciminated against why dont you push the musliums jews or hindues up you push the christians up and everyone else down making out christians are dominent stop discriminating against christians.

  22. We should apply this exact same reasoning to marriage. The government should not presume to establish who is married and who isn't. That is for people to decide themselves. The government should get out of the business of issuing marriage certificates all together. For tax purposes, you can just put "head of household" and "claimed dependents."

  23. an explanation saying the government "can't" recognize is unacceptable considering they do recognize religion, the don't allow the 10 commandments in schools, they exempt them from paying taxes, and honor religious holidays, so what does it matter if they "can't" when they already do?

  24. Finally something out there that that actually understands what freedom of religion actually means in the US Constitution! It's funny certain politicians don't understand this and yet they claim to be big on enforcing the US Constitution 'as it's written'.

  25. I would join Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption except that John Oliver shut it down. Now I have to look elsewhere for a tax deduction.

  26. I demand the right to freely express my religious opinions which James Madison said was as inviolate as my property rights. If my religious opinion condemns an immoral lifestyle so be it. The immoral will have to deal with it.

  27. BULLSHIT "SCIENTOLOGY"…And the American government has been screwing with the people in so many ways with the soul purpose of destroying the church…get a clue "GAY" people the right to marry had nothing to do with you, and had everything to do with destroying the church, and the right of the people to have an opinion, or belief…We see what you are doing…

  28. Can not recognize a religion, yet they have god on their money, pledge, and 10 commandments on some government buildings. buildings.

  29. The US government recognizes Vatican city, but not the Catholic church. The US government recognizes the tax exempt status of many religions, as non-profits. The US government recognizes several Muslim organizations as terrorist organizations, but not as religions to be protected, which is why they can prosecute war against them. Diplomatically, the US government can acknowledge religions for diplomatic purposes. That is as close as it gets.

  30. It saddens me that I couldn't wear my ceremonial strainer on my head as part of my Pastafarianism religion in my license photo.

    What? The Flying Spaghetti Monster is real!

  31. how about people attacking you for not following their religious practices as In Islamic murderers who attack people for not following sharira law

  32. I find it amusing that this is essentially pointless. It's not as if a law against belief is in any way enforceable or that if someones religion was murder that they're exempt from being sentenced as a murderer.

    Well I suppose it does one thing, it prevents the government from directly supporting a religion or religions. Not that that stops it from doing so indirectly.

  33. First, thanks for providing this example of the Supreme Court understanding of the meaning of the word, "religion". If I understand it correctly, it falls within the parameters of a definition I heard years ago, namely, "Religion is the sum of those beliefs, practices and prohibitions that pertain to a person's concept of the highest powers of the universe."

    It is refreshing that some people, in responding to this video, seem to be actually trying to think things through. (And sad that so many aren't thinking at all.)

    It would be helpful if more people were to try to understand the difference between religion and a religious organization. Our culture (U.S.) has suffered from the attempt to confuse the two by references to "a religion" as if a religious organization is "a religion".

    That confusion, in turn, is engendered by a mistake that was made some fifteen hundred years ago when the biblical concept that believers constitute the church was replaced by the idea that an organization constituted the church.

    Our present confusion is exacerbated by a mistake made by conservatives in the United States shortly after the ratification of the Bill of Rights, namely, the mistake of defining religion too narrowly as "theism". The result of that mistake is that atheism (in the guise of "science") can be promoted in the public schools while theism cannot.

    I'm not saying that theism should be promoted in the publish schools. (That would raise the question of which kind of theism should be promoted by your taxes.) What I am saying is that if we were to use an appropriately broad definition of the word religion, atheists and atheism could be held to the same standard as theists and theism.

  34. The legal code of the US is based on Christian law and the ten commandments, and is enforced by all levels of government. For example, it would have to exempt Sharia Law followers from various laws of the US constitution that are to protect everyone, if they allowed Sharia in the US.

  35. What I find about that is what they meant by "make no law respecting a religion", is that they're saying that in the sense of respecting one religion more than another. But I find that the New Age Atheists think that that means they can literally diss and insult someone based on a religious person's personal belief. The US Constitution obviously has no problem with expression of your religious/spiritual beliefs, as long as it doesn't harm the individual verbally or physically. And then when called out, they claim that they have freedom of speech. That's one of many reasons why here in Canada, our Constitution states that the government can take away a right that they're using to damage others' rights for a maximum of 5 years, unless it's a democratic right, a language right, or a mobility right. In short, here in Canada, we have freedom of speech, but there's a line between freedom of speech, and hate speech.

  36. Why dont we make a religion, that makes LGBTQ+ protected? I mean wouldn't LGBTQ+ accept that religion and make it world spread, and then the USA has to therefore protect them under the Constitution?

  37. In our school Christianity is the established religion. It's a public school but Christian holidays are excused for absence but any other monotheistic religious holiday isn't.

  38. All I gotta say is Scientology. If you can't go from a corporation to a religion tell it to them and their tax exempt status.

  39. Newely subbed. 😀 Love these videos but does anyone have any recommendations for a UK channel similar to this? Some of the ones based on law will be different over here.

  40. Please worship macom. My made up religion called macomism. Here's how to pray: macom, in all your glory, I shall pray. How I wish to help all that I can, how I wish, to be hopeful with you, maconan.

  41. I'm not done making my religion yet. It's still on its first layer in Adobe Animator. (Kind of like that)

  42. Americans be like: Freedom of all Religions guys~ Peace and prosper..But please be christians or we will laugh at you and you are gonna be weird

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