-4

A such law would literally reinstate the pre-Christian religion of ancient times (from over 1,000 years ago or even earlier).

7
  • 4
    Is the answer to this question not self-evident? What uncertainty is there that needs answering?
    – abelenky
    Sep 16, 2023 at 13:21
  • 2
    @abelenky: The answer is clear if you are familiar at all with the First Amendment, but maybe the asker isn't. Sep 16, 2023 at 14:19
  • 1
    @NateEldredge - but wouldn't "if a law was passed" mean that any constitutional obstructions had been overcome? If they hadn't, the law wouldn't have been passed. The whole nature of an amendment suggests it's not immutable - the 18th being an obvious example in the US. Sep 16, 2023 at 17:59
  • 8
    @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere That’s not how judicial review works. A law must be passed, and in the US must be applied in an actual case, before its constitutionality can be assessed by the judiciary.
    – Sneftel
    Sep 16, 2023 at 19:50
  • 4
    @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Facially unconstitutional laws are passed all the time. It’s something politicians do to please their base. While it’s less common at the federal level, the contention that passage would mean that “any constitutional obstructions had been overcome” is plainly untrue.
    – Sneftel
    Sep 17, 2023 at 12:05

2 Answers 2

7

The First Amendment begins with the Establishment Clause:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ...

The Supreme Court has been clear that this prohibits an "official denominational preference" (Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 245 (1982)).

The Establishment Clause also applies against the states via the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 15 (1947):

The broad meaning given the Amendment by these earlier cases has been accepted by this Court in its decisions concerning an individual's religious freedom rendered since the Fourteenth Amendment was interpreted to make the prohibitions of the First applicable to state action abridging religious freedom. There is every reason to give the same application and broad interpretation to the "establishment of religion" clause.

...

Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.

-3

Governments can pass whatever laws they choose.

A dictator can dictate laws, and forcing a religion on people would in a historical sense be fairly normal. "Pagan" gods frankly have no more or less standing under law than a more modern Jehovah or Allah. Dictators enforce their decrees via threat of fines, imprisonment, or death.

People can similarly democratically create whatever laws they choose. US voters could force amending the Constitution and create laws requiring the daily attendance at worship of whatever god they chose, again, enforced by threat of fines, imprisonment, or death. Smaller groups of like-minded religious people often enforce their beliefs on their congregation through social pressure as well, such as the threat of excommunication and subsequent shunning by the community.

The presence of present-day theocracies would seem to indicate that it isn't particularly difficult to establish a government with religious requirements.

2
  • Governments can only pass laws that don't violate their country's constitutions.
    – Trish
    Sep 22, 2023 at 19:19
  • @trish, governments can alter their constitutions or actively subvert the cases where the constitution is tradition vs. written (Israel and kind of the UK).
    – Tiger Guy
    Sep 22, 2023 at 19:28

You must log in to answer this question.