Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Witte on the Historical Foundations of American Religious Freedom

John Witte, Emory University School of Law, has posted Historical Foundations and Enduring Fundamentals of American Religious Freedom, which appears in the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 33 (2020): 156-167:
The eighteenth-century American founders believed that religion is special and deserves special constitutional protection, and that all peaceable faiths must be drawn into the constitutional process and protection. The founders introduced six constitutional principles for the protection of religious freedom – freedom of conscience, free exercise of religion, religious pluralism, religious equality, separation of church and state, and no state establishment of religion. Since the 1940s, the United States Supreme Court has upheld these religious freedom principles in more 170 cases, albeit unevenly of late. Moreover, in recent years religious freedom has come under sharp popular and academic attack, particularly as religious pathologies have come to light and religious freedom claims have clashed with sexual liberty claims. This Essay calls for a return to the first principles of religious freedom for all, at home and abroad, and for a new balance between religious freedom and other fundamental rights claims.
--Dan Ernst