Religious Freedom, Pluralism, and Equality
This chapter seeks to bring improved clarity and precision to our understanding of “discrimination,” particularly as it relates to conflicts between equality and religious freedom in the United States. It observes that discrimination is not wrong in and of itself—wrongful discrimination is wrong. Sometimes our most basic freedoms require the latitude to discriminate. This is often the case, it is suggested, with the right to religious freedom. Looking at three US Supreme Court cases—Bob Jones University, Christian Legal Society, and Hosanna-Tabor—this article delineates the contours of unjust and just discrimination. It finds discrimination is just when no “compelling state interest” is at stake and when preventing discrimination violates the dignity or rights of others. For example, in the United States the “ministerial exception” allows religious institutions to discriminate in their internal affairs—to deny them this freedom would be to impose on their religious liberty.
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