Is Religion Special? More Likely Than Not!
The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy & Public Policy. Edited by David Boonin. New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2019. Pp. 277-289
13 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2021 Last revised: 30 Jul 2021
Date Written: August 4, 2019
Some have questioned why religion should be singled out for special treatment in our legal instruments, such as the US Constitution, Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Why, for example, do these documents afford protection to citizens who engage in an activity religiously, while not affording the same protection for citizens who engage in what appears to be the same activity non-religiously? To answer this question, the author explains why religion, as with other associations and practices (e.g., marriage, speech, etc.), has been justly singled out. However, he goes on to show how so-called non-religious beliefs and practices can be afforded the same (and in some cases, a slightly different) protection under the law without diminishing the historical reason for religion’s specialness: the two sovereigns account.
Keywords: Specialness of Religion, Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Hobby Lobby, Birth Control, Religious Exemptions, Conscience
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