According to the Supreme Court, the First Amendment guarantees first and foremost the right to believe in any religion, science, or whatever else the mind chooses. The right to practice one's own religion, however, has had a mixed history in the judicial system. Consider the pending case:
Supreme Court agrees to review whether Brazil-based church can use hallucinogenic tea
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether a church in New Mexico can continue using hallucinogenic tea in its religious services.
At issue is whether use of the tea, which contains a drug banned under the federal Controlled Substances Act, is protected under freedom of religion laws. The Bush administration contends the tea is illegal and use of it potentially dangerous for church members...
This decision is markedly similar to Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith
, which concluded that the Free Exercise Clause did not require an exception to a state law controlling the use of peyote for religious customs in Native American tribes. I suspect that this dispute pertaining to ceremonial teas will be as equally controversial as Smith
, because ever since that ruling, the Court has refused to provide more exacting judicial scrutiny to cases involving free exercise conflicts.
What do you think is the true nature of the Free Exercise Clause?