The Varieties of Religious Autonomy
Church Autonomy: A Comparative Survey 117 (Gerhard Robbers, ed., Peter Lang Publishers 2001)
32 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2013 Last revised: 11 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2001
Religious institutional autonomy, properly understood, is an example of legal pluralism and an expression of “sovereignty-talk,” the existential encounter of distinct normative systems trying to recognize and respect each other’s distinct juridical dignity. But “sovereignty” has many dimensions, some of them in deep tension with each other. And some fundamental questions about the proper interpretation of religious institutional autonomy are essentially intractable. The article teases out the complex and often competing meanings of autonomy, the varied ways in which secular legal systems can try to respect religious institutional autonomy, and the doctrinal forms those permutations have taken in the American and other legal systems.
Keywords: Religious institutional autonomy, legal pluralism, sovereignty, church and state, First Amendment, Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, marriage,divorce, church property disputes, ministerial exception, Kashrut, Jewish divorce
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