Freedom of speech and of the press, guaranteed by the First Amendment, is today regarded to be our most preferred freedom. Justice Cardozo once said this freedom is the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other freedom.
But, to the Founding Fathers, freedom of religion was regarded to be preeminent among fundamental rights. And for good reasons. The immediate forebearers of the Framers of the Constitution, emigrated primarily because they were denied the right freely to exercise their respective religious beliefs not sanctioned by the established Church of England. The Colonists were religious dissenters. They adamantly insisted upon their fundamental rights to follow their own conscience in religious matters and wrote it in our Bill of Rights.
Goldberg, Arthur J.
"The Free Exercise of Religion,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 20
, Article 1.
Available at: https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol20/iss1/1