The freedom to practice or not practice religion without interference or coercion from the government is a fundamental guarantee of the U.S. and Connecticut constitutions. As enshrined in the First Amendment, religious freedom includes two complementary protections: the right to religious belief and expression, and a guarantee that the government neither prefers religion over non-religion nor favors particular faiths over others. These dual protections work hand in hand, allowing religious liberty to thrive and safeguarding both religion and government from the undue influences of the other. The ACLU of Connecticut has frequently defended these two complementary protections. We have successfully taken legal action to prevent the Enfield public school system from entangling itself with a particular religion by holding graduations in a cathedral, to secure a Naval officer's conscientious objector discharge when his Christian beliefs prevented him from participating in war, and to protect prisoners' religious observance rights.
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