Freedom of religion or freedom of belief is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any religion. The freedom to leave or discontinue membership in a religion or religious group—in religious terms called "apostasy"—is also a fundamental[peacock term] part of religious freedom, covered by Article 18 of United Nations' 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Freedom of religion is considered by many people and nations to be a fundamental human right. In a country with a state religion, freedom of religion is generally considered to mean that the government permits religious practices of other sects besides the state religion, and does not persecute believers in other faiths.
In the United States, freedom of religion is a constitutionally protected right provided in the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Freedom of religion is also closely associated with separation of church and state, a concept advocated by Colonial founders such as Roger Williams, William Penn and later founding fathers such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
The United States Constitution addresses the issue of religion in two places: in the First Amendment, and the Article VI prohibition on religious tests as a condition for holding public office. The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from making a law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". This provision was later expanded to state and local governments, through the Incorporation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In a recent post Suzianne made reference to the separation of church and state by stating that there should be no religious proselytizing in public government schools. This we can agree on and "no religious proselytizing" in government is the only intended meaning of separation of church and state by the founding fathers of the USA.