Does religious groups have the freedom to worship in the a mall even if it is causing a scene?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Freedom of religion; as is the case with all First Amendment rights, is not absolute and unqualified. Even freedom of speech, which receives the widest latitude of protection, is not absolute. The test in this case would be does the exercise of ones religion conflict with the rights of others. Freedom of Religion would not allow one to conduct human sacrifice, or other abhorrent acts.  In Reynolds vs. U.S. the Supreme Court held that polygamous marriages could not be protected under a claim of religious freedom. In some jurisdictions, street preachers have been limited to times and locations when they could deliver their messages. There must be a balancing of the rights of all parties involved.

In the present instance, local authorities have the right to limit the time and place in which one exercises ones religious freedoms. One might be required to obtain a permit, and give assurances that the exercise will not be unduly troubling. In the present instance, it depends on the meaning of "worship" and "creating a scene."  If one is interfering with the flow of traffic in the mall, keeping shoppers from their planned appointments, etc. then one might not be able to stay. There would obviously be other places/circumstances in which one's worship would be more appropriate.

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