Why religious freedom? [Publius Online]

Why religious freedom? The question seems, on its face, silly. We are Americans. We value religious freedom and we have since before the Founding. Religious freedom is the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights. It comes before the freedom of speech and assembly and before freedom of the press. It is the freedom that stands as the primary bulwark of our constitutional republic. But why? Why religious freedom? The answer is multi-faceted, but here are a few thoughts.