Religion and Group Rights: Are Churches (Just) Like the Boy Scouts?
St. John's Journal of Legal Commentary, Vol. 22, Fall 2007
19 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2007
What role do religious communities, groups, and associations play - and, what role should they play - in our thinking and conversations about religious freedom and church-state relations? These and related questions - that is, questions about the rights and responsibilities of religious institutions - are timely, difficult, and important. And yet, they are often neglected.
It is not new to observe that American judicial decisions and public conversations about religious freedom tend to focus on matters of individuals' rights, beliefs, consciences, and practices. The special place, role, and freedoms of groups, associations, and institutions are often overlooked. However, if we want to understand well, and to appreciate, the content and implications of our constitutional commitment to religious liberty, we need to broaden our focus, and to ask, as Professors Lupu and Tuttle have put it, about the "distinctive place of religious entities in our constitutional order." Are religious institutions special? May and should they be treated specially? If so, how? Why?
Keywords: Religious freedom, free exercise, establishment clause, church autonomy, expressive association, freedom of speech
JEL Classification: K19, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation