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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Religious surveys are finding greater percentages of Americans who self-identify as secular. At the same time, religious exemptions under the Free Exercise Clause have become more difficult to obtain. However, religion jurisprudence in the United States has not become more secular for two reasons. First, this greater unwillingness to grant constitutional exemptions reflects a shift in constitutional jurisprudence from “separationism” to “neutrality.” Rather than building a wall between church and state, the Establishment Clause is now interpreted to impose fewer restraints on state-sponsored religion. Second, statutes like the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and its state counterparts have not only reestablished separationist era levels of protection for religious liberty but increased them. The result is a religion jurisprudence where religion is accommodated more than ever, while the state has more leeway to advance religion. This combination has unfortunate consequences for both secular people and core secular values, such as antidiscrimination.

Keywords: Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause, church and state separation, religious exemptions, LGBT

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