American Religious Liberty in International Perspective

Oxford Handbook on Church and State in the United States, Derek Davis, ed. (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 404-422

Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-378

21 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2015 Last revised: 11 Aug 2019

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

This Article compares First Amendment religious liberty with prevailing international human rights norms on religious freedom set out in the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, the 1989 Vienna Concluding Documents, and other documents. The United States Supreme Court’s cases on freedom of conscience, free exercise of religion, and religious equality and non-discrimination compare favorably to international standards, though the Court’s repeated failure to protect the distinct religious freedom claims of Native American groups falls short. The Supreme Court cases defending the principle of separation of church and state mesh well with international concerns for the rights and autonomy of religious groups, but go beyond international norms in largely removing religious freedom from public education.

Keywords: Religious Liberty; First Amendment; International Human Rights; United States Supreme Court; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; ¬UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief; Freedom of Conscience

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, American Religious Liberty in International Perspective (2011). Oxford Handbook on Church and State in the United States, Derek Davis, ed. (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 404-422, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-378, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2705583

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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