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When Religious Practices Become Legal Obligations: Extending the Foreign Compulsion Defense


Michael A. Helfand


Pepperdine University School of Law


Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 23, 2008

Abstract:     
The purpose of this article is to fashion a religious compulsion defense as an outgrowth of the legally recognized foreign compulsion defense. Contra the rationale advanced in Employment Division v. Smith, the article argues that the rationale behind the foreign compulsion defense - to protect individuals from conflicting legal norms of competing legal systems - should also apply to situations where religious law and United States law collide. In adopting the criteria of the foreign compulsion defense, a religious compulsion defense would extract individuals from conflicts of law, protecting individuals in the throes of the most intractable of dilemmas.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 44

Keywords: Religion, Conflict of Laws, Legal Theory

JEL Classification: K00, K33, K42

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Date posted: May 30, 2007 ; Last revised: March 3, 2008

Suggested Citation

Helfand, Michael A., When Religious Practices Become Legal Obligations: Extending the Foreign Compulsion Defense. Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 23, 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=980808

Contact Information

Michael A. Helfand (Contact Author)
Pepperdine University School of Law ( email )
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States
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