'Come Now Let Us Reason Together': Restoring Religious Freedom in America and Abroad

22 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2017 Last revised: 29 Jul 2019

See all articles by John Witte

John Witte

Emory University School of Law

Joel A. Nichols

University of St. Thomas School of Law (MN)

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

This Article challenges the criticisms of religious freedom that have emerged among recent academics and politicians, and the growing subordination of religious freedom to sexual freedom claims. In particular, we analyze recent critical scholarship that claims that religious liberty was not important to the American founders and that calls for the removal of special religious exemptions and accommodations because they are said to threaten other fundamental rights and to privilege religion unfairly. These critical arguments we find historically false, philosophically misguided, sociologically one-sided, and increasingly dangerous given the perilous state of religious freedom around the world today. We call for a return to the founders’ insights that religion deserves special constitutional protection and that religious freedom must be open to all forms of religion and belief. We also call for a proper balancing of the enduring principles of freedom of conscience, free exercise of religion, religious pluralism, religious equality, separation of church and state, and disestablishment of religion, which together have helped forge the unique protection of religious freedom that America holds out to all its citizens, and to the world.

Keywords: Religious freedom; First Amendment; Free Exercise Clause; Establishment Clause; Religious Freedom Restoration Act; religious exemptions; religious accommodations; religious corporations; Supreme Court; John Adams; religious violence; sexual liberty; same-sex relations; same-sex marriage; r

Suggested Citation

Witte, John and Nichols, Joel A., 'Come Now Let Us Reason Together': Restoring Religious Freedom in America and Abroad (2016). Notre Dame Law Review, 92:1, 2016, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-423, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2897651

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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Joel A. Nichols

University of St. Thomas School of Law (MN) ( email )

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