How Should I Praise Thee? Brian Leiter on Respect for Religion

27 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2010 Last revised: 22 Feb 2019

Date Written: January 5, 2010


In two recent papers, Brian Leiter argues that there is no good reason for law to single out religion for special treatment, and that religion is not an apt candidate for respect in the “thick” sense of being an object of favorable appraisal. Both arguments depend on a radically impoverished conception of what religion is and what it does. In this paper, I explain what Leiter leaves out, and offer an hypothesis about why. I also engage with some related reflections by Simon Blackburn and Timothy Macklem, both of whom influence, in different ways, Leiter’s analysis.

Keywords: Brian Leiter, religion, religious exemption, Establishment Clause, First Amendment

JEL Classification: K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Koppelman, Andrew M., How Should I Praise Thee? Brian Leiter on Respect for Religion (January 5, 2010). 47 San Diego Law Review 961 (2010), Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 10-07, Available at SSRN: or

Andrew M. Koppelman (Contact Author)

Northwestern University School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-8431 (Phone)

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