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The New Religious Freedom: Secular Fictions and Church Autonomy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 June 2015

Matthew Scherer*
Affiliation:
George Mason University
*
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Matthew Scherer, School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs, George Mason University, MSN 3F4, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030. E-mail: mschere2@gmu.edu

Abstract

This article argues that a new form of religious freedom is emerging within the contentious field of United States politics today. Despite the commitment to separating church and state that is characteristic of American secularism, implementation of the new religious freedom appears likely to contribute to processes that are actively reshaping religious and political landscapes. Recent US Supreme Court cases such as Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc. present clear examples and this article uses the former case to bring the dynamics of the new religious freedom to light. The push for religious freedom in contemporary United States law and politics should be assessed in terms of its transformative consequences in both “religious” and “political” spheres. These consequences include refashioning religious communities as increasingly hierarchical and isolated enclaves, undermining the rights and freedoms of citizens, and further fracturing the public sphere.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association 2015 

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