Why Religious Liberty is a Special, Important and Limited Right

19 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2009

See all articles by John Finnis

John Finnis

Notre Dame Law School; University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 30, 2008


This address to a conference in Princeton on religious liberty in the contemporary situation engages in a critical review of the main thesis of Christopher Eisgruber and Lawrence Sager, Religious Freedom & the Constitution (Harvard UP, 2007), that religion is not “a … category of human experience that demands special benefits and/or necessitates special restrictions,” or any “special immunity for religiously motivated conduct.” Against this position it is argued that natural religion of the form manifested in the New York Regents’ prayer outlawed by the US Supreme Court in Engel v Vitale (1962) is not to be put on the same constitutional level as (or below) other human passionate interests or even conscience. The paper considers inter alia the Indian and the European Convention provisions on religious liberty.

Keywords: religious liberty, free exercise, liberty, religion, freedom of religion

Suggested Citation

Finnis, John M., Why Religious Liberty is a Special, Important and Limited Right (October 30, 2008). Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 09-11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1392278 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1392278

John M. Finnis (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

University College
High Street
Oxford, England OX1 4BH
United Kingdom

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