Free Exercise and Religious Mania: Neuroscience and Religious Free Exercise

10 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2010

Date Written: September 28, 2010


This paper is a presentation given on September 17, 2010 at the conference on Neuroscience in European and North American Case Law sponsored by the Court of Milan and the European Center for Law, Science, and New Technologies at the University of Pavia. It extends the analysis of Steven Goldberg, of Catholic University Law School Professor, who argues that cases in which neuroscience testimony has been used in legal commitment proceeding to invalidate a putative claim of religious belief hold significance (beyond their formal legal meaning) for the use of neuroscience in religious free exercise cases. Like Goldberg, I believe such cases are important for thinking about the future of neuroscience and law in the area of religious free exercise. In this presentation, I argue that while neuroscience testimony may not be used to invalidated the truth-claim of a purported religious belief, it might be admissible to determine the sincerity of a belief or to evaluated the mental state of the believe for consistency with religiousness. While much more work needs to be done in this area, there is promise for enriching the jurisprudence of religious exercise with the insights of the neuroscience of religious belief.

Keywords: Freedom of religion, Religious free exercise, Free exercise clause, neuroscience

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Lee, Kevin Paul, Free Exercise and Religious Mania: Neuroscience and Religious Free Exercise (September 28, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Kevin Paul Lee (Contact Author)

Campbell Law School ( email )

225 Hillborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27603
United States

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