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What Business do Businesses Have with the Free Exercise of Religion?

  • Judith Lynn Failer (a1)
Abstract

Since Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014), federal and state religious freedom restoration acts now extend the right to free exercise of religion to businesses. But what does it mean for businesses to have such a right? In this paper, I identify three implications of these new rights: they shift the burden for fulfilling the right to private citizens, and they conflict with businesses’ both commercial and democratic obligations. To illustrate how they become problematic, I draw on the case of In re Wathen (2015) where the owners of a bed and breakfast cited their business's religion as their reason for refusing to host a wedding reception for a same-sex couple, even though state law specifically prohibited commercial businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

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Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Prof. Judith Lynn Failer, Department of Political Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, Woodburn 210, Bloomington, Indiana 47405-7110, USA. E-mail: jfailer@indiana.edu
Footnotes
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I gratefully acknowledge the wise advice I received while preparing this paper from Suzanne Dovi, David Orentlicher, Nick Tampio, and the anonymous reviewers. Remaining mistakes are all my own.

Footnotes
References
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Politics and Religion
  • ISSN: 1755-0483
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