Religious exemptions and preferences for the religious over thenonreligious
VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu
Tue Mar 2 13:39:19 PST 2010
Howard Friedman writes: "Except for its greater attractiveness, why is this different than prisons granting special religious diets-which many routinely do? Or does the greater pressure to feign (or adopt) a particular religious belief because of the attractiveness of the option make a constitutional difference?"
Well, if we think that coercive pressure to participate in a religious practice -- even at so mild a level as standing quietly while a speaker is leading the audience is praying, and even when all that is lost if one doesn't show up is the opportunity to go to one's graduation -- violates the Establishment Clause, why wouldn't the same apply here?
Also, independently of coercion, might it be the case that mild preferences for religious people over the nonreligious are permissible, but that much more significant preferences (e.g., religious objectors don't have to kill and to risk being killed in war, while nonreligious objectors do) are not permissible?
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