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Some of the most complex questions about constitutional provisions governing religion concern the status of various kinds of convictions. Put most simply, how do undoubted religious convictions compare with convictions that appear to have little to do with religion, with convictions that derive from negative answers to religious questions, and with convictions that seem to be on some borderline of what may count as religion? In this Essay, I focus on two kinds of questions about this range of convictions.

Part I of the Essay explores justifications underlying the religion clauses of federal and state constitutions. It asks how explicitly religious justifications may stand when citizens and officials explain and justify principles of religious liberty. Part II of the Essay inquires whether certain kinds of beliefs that are not traditionally religious either count as religious for constitutional purposes or must be accorded treatment equal to that given religious beliefs. A principle of government nonsponsorship of religious positions figures prominently in both sections of the Essay.


Constitutional Law | Law | Religion Law