How Could Religious Liberty Be a Human Right?

46 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2017

Date Written: June 29, 2017


A growing number of scholars think “religious liberty” is a bad idea. They oppose religious persecution, but think that a specifically “religious” liberty arbitrarily privileges practices that happen to resemble Christianity and distorts perception of real injuries. Both objections are sound, but religious liberty is nonetheless appropriately regarded as a right. Law is inevitably crude. The state cannot possibly recognize each individual’s unique identity-constituting attachments. It can, at best, protect broad classes of ends that many people share. “Religion” is such a class.

Keywords: Religion, Human Rights, Religious Liberty

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Koppelman, Andrew M., How Could Religious Liberty Be a Human Right? (June 29, 2017). Int. J. Const. Law, Forthcoming; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 17-15; Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 17-08. 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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