The Permissible Scope of Limitations on the Freedom of Religion and Belief in the United States
45 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2006
This article is part of a symposium comparing the protections for freedom of religion and belief in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The article reviews the protections of freedom of religion in the United States and the bases for limiting religious freedom. It summarizes federal protection under the Free Exercise and Free Speech clauses and then sets forth the broader protections for religiously grounded conduct provided by federal and state religious-freedom statutes (RFRA, RLUIPA, etc.) and state constitutional provisions. It also compares limitations on religious freedom in American law with related but often different concepts in European law, and it discusses features in American history, constitutional structure, and political culture that have led to distinctive treatment of constitutional religious freedom rights in America. The article, like the others in this symposium conducted by the European-American Law and Religion Scholars' Consortium, concludes with analysis of a series of hypothetical cases meant to provide common material for comparisons across nations.
Keywords: freedom of religion, freedom of belief, Religion Clauses, Free Exercise Clause, comparative religious freedom, comparative constitutional law
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