Varieties of Burden in Religious Accommodations

35 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2017 Last revised: 12 May 2018

See all articles by Anna Su

Anna Su

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 27, 2017


Religious accommodation analysis often takes the form of a tripartite test. One of the factors in such a test is the presence of burden, the current judicial understandings of which have been inadequate to capture a wide range of impact that government regulations have on the individual or community practice of religion. This paper considers and compares the jurisprudence of the high courts of the United States and Canada and the European Court of Human Rights and argues for an expansive understanding of the burden requirement in the evaluation of religious accommodation claims, namely to consider burden as (1) coercion, (2) impact and (3) ratification. I argue that it is imperative to acknowledge different kinds of burden before proceeding to determine its gravity. This approach takes religion more seriously than prevailing approaches and, provides for a more equitable distribution of the burden of proof in religious accommodation claims.

Keywords: Substantial Burden, Infringement, Interference, Law and Religion

Suggested Citation

Su, Anna, Varieties of Burden in Religious Accommodations (October 27, 2017). Journal of Law and Religion, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Anna Su (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5

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