As every grade school student would remind us, the very first amendment to the Constitution of the United States specifically prohibits Congress from making law that prohibits the free exercise of religion. Our founders just didn't believe that government should meddle with the personal beliefs or practices of men and women when it comes to prayer and God.
There are two ideas that are innate in this: truth does not reside in a single faith. And, diversity is our strength as a nation. No group was to be favored and no group was singled out or denied these protections. The language is clear. The right is absolute. In a sense, freedom of conscience is the essence of liberty.
Yet, as every grade school student also knows, the promise of American freedom has not matched its practice. Our history is filled with stories of persecution against Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists, among many others. But this is not simply a matter of history. It is our present. We have not risen above bitterness. We have not grasped the true meaning of our American experiment.