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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Neutrality and the Good of Religious Freedom: An Appreciative Response to Prof. Koppelman"

A little while ago, Bob Cochran and the crew at Pepperdine hosted a great conference, “The Competing Claims of Law and Religion: Who Should Influence Whom?” (Here, here, and here are some earlier posts, from the "Mirror of Justice" blog, on the conference.) I was honored to be asked to respond to Prof. Koppelman's invited lecture (which is based on his forthcoming book, Defending American Religious Neutrality), but the festering miasma of evil that is contemporary air travel delayed my arrival so that I was too late to share my response with the conference. So, thanks to SSRN, several months later, here it is:

This paper is a short response to an address, “And I Don’t Care What It Is: Religious Neutrality in American Law,” delivered by Prof. Andrew Koppelman at a conference, “The Competing Claims of Law and Religion: Who Should Influence Whom?”, which was held at Pepperdine University in February of 2012. In this response, it is suggested – among other things – that “American religious neutrality” is, as Koppelman argues, “coherent and attractive” because and to the extent that it is not neutral with respect to the goal and good of religious freedom.

Religious freedom, in the American tradition, is not what results from the operationalization in law of hostility toward religion. It is not (only) what results from a program of conflict-avoidance or division-dampening. It is not merely the product of those compromises that were necessary to secure the ratification of the original Constitution. It is, instead, a valuable and necessary feature of any attractive legal regime, because it reflects, promotes, and helps to constitute human flourishing. So, and again, the state should remain “neutral” with respect to most religious questions – primarily because the resolution of such questions is outside the jurisdiction, and not just the competence, of civil authorities – but it may and should affirm enthusiastically that religious freedom is a good thing that should be protected and nurtured in law and policy.

Posted by Rick Garnett on May 22, 2012 at 04:28 PM in Rick Garnett | Permalink

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Comments

I'm with you. I feel religious freedom should be unaltered.

Posted by: cody | Jul 25, 2012 6:08:29 PM

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