Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Civil Rights Act's exemption of religious organizations from the prohibition against religious discrimination in employment 1 does not violate the Establishment Clause when applied to a religious organization’s secular, nonprofit activities. In Corporation of the Presiding Bishop v. Amos, 2 the Court held that a church-run gymnasium operated as a nonprofit facility open to the public could require that its employees be church members. Declaring that
there is ample room for accommodation of religion under the Establishment Clause, 3 the Court identified a legitimate purpose in freeing a religious organization from the burden of predicting which of its activities a court will consider to be secular and which religious. The rule applying across-the-board to nonprofit activities and thereby
avoid[ing] . . . intrusive inquiry into religious belief also serves to lessen entanglement of church and state. 4 The exemption itself does not have a principal effect of advancing religion, the Court concluded, but merely allows churches to advance religion. 5