Freedom of “worship”? Not of “religion”?

I had heard a story about the Naturalization Test legal immigrants (always welcome) take for citizenship in these USA.  I tried a self-test at the .gov site.

I saw this:

One of these, freedom of “worship” or freedom of “religion” is fine.  The other is not so fine.

The next question, however, was “What is freedom of religion?”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Priam1184 says:

    Religious freedom is a poisonous idea. One can tolerate false religions but one should not encourage their practice and the latter is what we have done. The whole idea of religious ‘freedom’ was first proposed by men who were implacable enemies of the Catholic Church and it invariably leads to public atheism and atheistic totalitarianism as we can see today across the formerly Christian world. The society that we live in today is what the men who first proposed the idiocy of religious freedom wanted to see all those centuries ago and now we have to live with it. The devil too can be patient when it suits his purposes.

  2. mrshopey says:

    I don’t think anyone understands it anymore.

    BTW, what are the correct answers? It can’t be that one and number one too unless they have changed laws? IOW, running for president in general or for them? Not everyone can run for president. Such as someone born outside of the country can’t.

  3. mrshopey says:

    I see my mistake. Never mind.
    There is another question regarding Freedom of Religion and the correct answer is ability to worship or not.
    I wonder when or if they learn the govt has no right to interfere?

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

  4. frbkelly says:

    There is a big difference between Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Worship.
    The old Soviet Constitution and those of its client states used to guarantee Freedom of Worship.

    One of the former pastors of my parish, Fr. John Prachar, was a refugee from the then Czechoslovakia. Receiving a warning from a parishioner during Holy Thursday Mass, he finished Mass, locked up the church and ran for his life. After three days walking and hiding he crossed the border into Austria and heard the church bells ringing on Easter Morning. He realized that he still had the Church Key in his pocket. From there he made his way to America and eventually to Southern Nebraska.

    40 years later, with the easing of the Cold war, he had the opportunity to return home and had celebration of their “Freedom” of Worship by unlocking the door of the church which had been locked all that time. (How free were they really?)

    Incidentally, 2 years later, he returned again and was beaten to death on the street, in what may very well have been an instance of martyrdom in our time. Let us pray for perseverance!

  5. mschu528 says:

    I’m with Priam1184. Error has no rights.

  6. Cafea Fruor says:

    Answer: None of the above.

    Reason: The question says, “…of everyone living in the United States?” Not everyone who lives here is a citizen, and non-citizens don’t have the rights of citizens last time I checked.

  7. OrthodoxChick says:

    One of my sons just completed his sophomore year of high school at a state-run public school. His final exam in his civics class was to take this test. Having just taken it myself thanks to Father Z.’s link, now I know why.

  8. ghp95134 says:

    @Cafea Fruor who sez: Not everyone who lives here is a citizen, and non-citizens don’t have the rights of citizens last time I checked.

    You didn’t check the appropriate areas …. Non-citizens, but legal residents (i.e. “Green Card” holders), tourists, work/student visa — they all share the same rights as citizens, except to vote or become president (or hold similar elected offices).

    …Within U.S. territory, non-citizens have rights because of the 14th Amendment, which declares “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”… The Fifth Amendment (which applies to the federal government) likewise uses the phrase “no person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”. (Quote from John Yoo found at [NOT an endorsement of the website]).

  9. SKAY says:

    Catholics who signed the Constitution and their involvement in our Revolutionary War.

    The (Catholic ) French were very helpful to us during important moments during the war and

    in the history that I have read–particularly one about John Adams–minds were changed. I realize the French had their own reasons for helping the revolution but the help was appreciated.
    The Declaration of Independence certainly was important to Catholics at that time as was the freedom of religion.

    “The old Soviet Constitution and those of its client states used to guarantee Freedom of Worship.”
    Thank you for that little history lesson frbkelly. It is important.
    It also seems to be something the left and this administration is trying to change in our Constitution with no one noticing. Thank you also Fr. Z for keeping us aware.

  10. Juergensen says:

    “Religion” has many facets, such as opposition to abortion, opposition to sodomite marriage, etc.; “worship” is just that – worship – and can be restricted by government to the confines of home. This is the future of America under the Democrats (with a hat tip to the Republicans).

  11. Sonshine135 says:

    Free to worship at the altar of secular humanism maybe. All others need not apply.

  12. Kathleen10 says:

    Just a recollection, and I can’t be specific because I can’t remember what was said. But I remember reading not too long ago that freedom of worship and freedom of religion are not just a matter of wording, but represent a much bigger reality. It was not considered as “good” to have freedom of worship and since this administration came up with it I am sure that is so. We need to scrutinize every letter they issue including the dots over the i’s.

  13. jhayes says:

    “Freedom of worship” goes back to at least 1941. It was one of the “Four Freedoms”

    The Four Freedoms were goals articulated by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941. In an address known as the Four Freedoms speech (technically the 1941 State of the Union address), he proposed four fundamental freedoms that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy:

    Freedom of speech
    Freedom of worship
    Freedom from want
    Freedom from fear

  14. Priam1184 says:

    Postscript: I just saw a Catholic bishop (the Archbishop of Baltimore whose name escapes me now), a successor of the apostles, giving the closing address at the Mass that ended the bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom nonsense in which he stated with pride that there are people of no faith in the Untied States. But hey he said that Catholics ‘living out their faith’ would work to provide health care and education… This is what you get when you worship at the altar of religious freedom.

  15. SKAY says:

    “The Four Freedoms were goals articulated by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941. ”
    “Freedom of speech
    Freedom of worship
    Freedom from want
    Freedom from fear”

    That is an interesting point jhayes.
    Under Franklin Roosevelt we became allies of Communist Russia(Stalin) in 1941 also in order to defeat Germany.

    I wonder if he really understood the difference between the words then. Unfortunately there were some very leftist “fellow travelers” within his administration at the time who might have suggested using that word–knowing the difference.

  16. OrthodoxChick says:


    With respect, I would change your last sentence to say, “This is what you get when Catholic schools and Catholic charitable organizations rely on federal tax dollars, favors from powerful catholic Democratic politicians on the left, and the financial generosity of such, to provide health care and education”.

    We might be in a more powerful position to lobby for religious freedom if “Catholics living out their faith” were independent of the same government that is diligently working to erase us from existence. As it is, some of our leadership in the USCCB are fast becoming merely puppets on a string. Sadly, many of them seem completely unaware of it.

  17. TomD says:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . .” [from The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States]

    The substitution of “freedom of worship” for the free exercise of religion is an attempt to both redefine and narrow our religious constitutional rights as expressed in the First Amendment. With respect to substituting religious worship for religious exercise, FDR’s Four Freedoms were an early attempt in this effort. In fact, both religious clauses have been tampered with in the modern era; the definition of the establishment of religion has been broadened, while multiple attempts have been made to contract the definition of the free exercise of religion, all in the interest of redefining our religious rights by judicial fiat to suit the secular mindset.

    The Left clearly wishes to exclude religion as an influence and as a presence in the public square, so restricting our religious right to the freedom of worship is a major step toward accomplishing that goal. “Worship as you please, but keep it to yourself,” has become the secular mantra. That more narrow definition, however, is not the constitutional right that is protected by the First Amendment, unless the US Supreme Court willingly permits this illegitimate reformulation to occur.

  18. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I am reminded of Fr. Dimitri Dudko, who dared to push the boundaries of his Soviet-Constitutionally-guaranteed ‘freedom of worship’: the Orthodox Wiki article on him includes, “His reputation came […] from a series of nine sermons that he deliver at St. Nicholas Church in Moscow in late 1973 and early 1974.

    “In the Soviet State, the churches were not permitted to distribute publications publicly, hold classes, or conduct discussion groups. Sermons were limited to matters of ritual. In this atmosphere Fr. Dimitri framed his sermons in the form of a dialogue in which he addressed written questions that interested his congregation. His candid comments, presented in his strong speaking style, soon caused the church to be overflowing with visitors. But, his success also brought interruptions to his life as the police subjected him to interrogations. In 1973, Fr. Dimitri was told by Patr. Pimen to stopped his unusual sermons, which he did, only to move the sessions to his home.”

    He was later successfully bullied into a ‘recantation’ on Soviet television: “In a twenty minute show he renounced his activities, in what was clearly an event produced by the KGB as a decisive measure, not only against the anti-Soviet activities of freedom seekers in Moscow but against the little independence left in the Russian Orthodox Church.”

  19. truthfinder says:

    How does that practice exam relate to the real thing – it seems incredibly easy, and I’m Canadian.

  20. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Aloysius Knott’s 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia article on “Maryland” is worth reading in this context. Of Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, and his 1649 Act of Toleration he writes, ‘It was passed by that body, the majority of whom mere Catholics, without a dissenting voice. “And whereas”, it reads, “the enforcing of the conscience in matters of religion hath frequently fallen out to be of dangerous consequence in those commonwealths where it hath been practised, and for the more quiet and peaceable government of the province and the better to preserve mutual love and amity amongst the inhabitants thereof: Be it therefore enacted that noe person or persons whatsoever within this province. . .professing to believe in Jesus Christ, shall henceforth be in any waies troubled, molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion or in the free exercise thereof within this province nor in anything compelled to the belief or exercise of any other religion against his or her consent.” The act then provides penalties for violation of its provisions. In the controversies about this celebrated Act of Toleration, efforts have been made by many Protestant writers to deprive Cecilius Calvert of the merit of its authorship, but the judgment of all fair historians gives to Cecilius Calvert, and to him alone, following the example of his father, the honour of “being the first in the annals of mankind”, as Bancroft says in his “History of the United States”, “to make religious freedom the basis of the State”.’

  21. Priam1184 says:

    @OrthodoxChick I don’t disagree with you about the corruption of large parts of the episcopacy and Catholic lay leadership in the United States. However, while it is possible that some might be unaware, most of them know exactly what they are doing. They have been doing it far too long and have been far too consistent in their behavior for this to be simply a mistake. And we can’t hide behind the excuse of thinking that we are being charitable by not pointing this out. They know exactly what they are doing.

    With regard to religious freedom, it was an idea that was introduced into Christian Europe to destroy the authority of the Catholic Church and it is out and out lunacy for the Catholic Church to use it as a defense.

  22. The Masked Chicken says:

    Four Freedoms? I got your Four Freedoms. The Four Classical Freedoms of Catholics, according to St. Bernard, are:

    Freedom from sin
    Freedom from misery
    Freedom from necessity (compulsion or fate)
    Freedom from the State (if it commands immorality)

    Obviously, the first two will only be perfectly realized in Heaven, but the last two are inviolate rights that are necessities of a free Christian conscience. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms seem more arbitrary, but they may be derived, in a very blurry fashion, from these, although there is some possibility that they mimicked the Four Freedoms from the 1939 Worlds Fair from two years earlier:

    Freedom of Religion
    Freedom of Speech
    Freedom of the Press
    Freedom of Assembly

    Indeed and ironically, Roosevelt’s Freedoms tend to bind one to the State as the one granting freedoms of speech, freedom from want, freedom of worship, and freedom from fear. It is precisely because Roosevelt is binding the citizens to government intervention to secure these liberties that he cannot express freedom to seek God as freedom of religion, but only as freedom of worship, because freedom of religion would bind the person to a higher power than the State.

    The Chicken

  23. The Masked Chicken says:

    To be fair, I do not know where Roosevelt got the expression, “Freedom of Worship.” Perhaps, he thought it sounded classier than freedom of religion – many Protestant churches were called, “houses of worship,” back then. Perhaps, he got it from the A. A. notion of freedom to worship God as you conceive him to be. His exact quote is: “The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.”

    I don’t want to sound all tin-foil-hattey by implying that there was a secret agenda of government control, a la, Brave New World, back in 1941. In my earlier comment, I was trying to contrast Roosevelt’s idea that governments should provide these four freedom, especially worship, with the idea that religion is a binding of someone to God, not the state.

    The Chicken

  24. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Priam1184 writes, “With regard to religious freedom, it was an idea that was introduced into Christian Europe to destroy the authority of the Catholic Church”- but weren’t we just recalling the 1700th anniversary of its introduction into pagan Europe – or at least its extension to Christians there – which allowed the public flourishing of the Catholic Church to an unprecedented degree?

  25. Priam1184 says:

    @Verator Sti Lot The 1700th anniversary of what? The Edict of Milan? Should we forget what Theodosius did 70 years later? Google Theodosius 381 A.D. and see what that turns up for you and tell me what exactly shaped the thousand years that were to come. The Edict of Milan was only a great accomplishment because it gave freedom to the Church, not because it gave freedom and state encouragement to those who worship rocks and trees and the sun and the moon and practice every immorality under the sun, the Romans already had that. It was the freedom of the Church to act in public and to draw others to herself (which she does not do now because of the far different circumstances under this present regime of religious ‘freedom’) that changed the world, not the freedom to bow down before a bull and to offer sacrifice to your local river.

  26. Priam1184 says:

    I do want to make clear here that when I say that the idea of religious freedom is poisonous and dangerous I am not advocating acting toward followers of the false religions like the Sunni act toward the Shi’a or vice versa. This not about satisfying worldly passions and drilling holes in someone’s head because they worship the wrong god. It is about the salvation of souls. And if a state is designed to act for the good of its citizens then the highest good is the salvation of their souls and the encouragement of the practice of false religions does not achieve this. Nor is it simply a matter of competing in the marketplace of ideas and believing that the Truth will win out; that is not the way it works in this fallen world. The Church is called by Jesus Christ to drive out the devil, not to compete with him.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    Americans are so asleep. The freedoms will be gone so quickly–the latest SCOTUS decision was too close for comfort. Why Americans are not really concerned, I do not understand.

  28. janeway529 says:

    The erosion of religious freedom began 10 years ago in the State of California in the civil case of Catholic Charities of Sacramento vs State of California in 2004. The Supreme Court of California ruled on what constitutes a “religious employer” (read: “church”) under the law: (1) your purpose is to inculcate religious values, (2) primarily you employ those ONLY those of your own religion, (3) primarily you serve ONLY persons of your own religion, and (4) you qualify as a church under federal tax laws. The Church doesn’t meet this criteria because we don’t ONLY employ and serve Catholics. We don’t ONLY teach religious education in our schools. They’ve defined it as a work of “members of a church,” not a “work of a church.” Therefore, it isn’t protected under the First Amendment. The only thing protected is worship and religious instruction. Everything else doesn’t qualify as a “work of the church.”

  29. Kathleen10 says:

    @Supertradmum, Americans are asleep because so many of us cannot imagine a world without our freedoms. Despite history lessons to the contrary, Americans believe that while we may suffer incompetence in our White House and government, all will turn out well in the end. Life will go on. Americans live in a culture that moves like lightning. We have to focus on making gobs of money just to live modestly here, and we have short attention spans and memories. We have forgotten about the bigger issues and what grabs our attention is what the media puts before us, despite the media’s obvious manipulations and bias. We don’t like to talk about politics, religion, or anything serious. That’s too negative and we focus on “positives”. If you talk about these you worry too much or are weird. You need to relax. Now we have cell phones and social media so we don’t have to interact with the other humanoids walking around us. We are split into little racial enclaves and getting more separated by the racial hucksters each day, by design. Whatever happens that’s inconvenient it will be gone in a day or so. There are many of us who could care less about God, live very nicely without him, and many of us who know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and live that truth as best we can. Many of us are watching sadly as our beloved nation struggles to hold on to American ideals while internal haters and atheists turn her into something we don’t recognize. Powerful and wealthy groups rule. We are a nation divided into two distinct camps, divided now by numerous factors. The media tells lies about each group to the other and gullible people believe them.

  30. Kathleen10 says:

    We are also a nation badly in need of leadership by our Bishops, to help us know good from evil and to help us battle this onslaught, but they have left their posts and sent out letters of tolerance and diversity instead.

  31. haskovez says:

    Just as another data point. When my wife naturalized, I remember how poor all the materials were. There are just tons of errors in the stuff they give you to prepare. I am not entirely convinced that this isn’t just incompetence from whomever prepared the website. I recall one time sitting in the waiting area while my wife was in an interview or something in the process along the way and another immigrant asked me if I could quiz her from her book as she was trying to prepare for the test. So I said sure and I found 3 or 4 mistakes in her book that were just wrong answers for the test and I let her know her book had errors in it.

  32. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Priam1187, would we have had Theodosius to remember 70 years later, without the possibilities established by law 70 years earlier, and unsuccessfully contested in the 360s by Julian?

    As to what-all “exactly shaped the thousand years that were to come”, well, obviously Christianity, though not exclusively. Is C.S. Lewis wrong when he says of “the transitional period’ of roughly 205-533, “During these centuries much that was of Pagan origin was built irremovably into the Model” he describes in The Discarded Image?

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