- Religious Freedom, Religious Privilege
The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." These two clauses—the establishment clause and the free exercise clause—have been at the heart of almost every major religious freedom case in U.S. history. What do we make of these two ideas? What has the Supreme Court said about them? What implications do they have for us? What is RFRA and why does it matter? What philosophical principles do the First Amendment's religious clauses enshrine? Religious liberty has once again come roaring into the headlines (though it never really goes away). From the Hobby Lobby decision to Masterpiece Cake Shop, we are now confronted with a new batch of cases that seem to question many of the ideas and ideals we hold dear. The evening will begin with a short presentation on just why this can be such a difficult issue to talk about—we will discuss some of the conflicting principles in play in these cases and how people have traditionally resolved the tension between them. We will walk through four of the most important religious freedom cases before moving on to, hopefully, a deep and civil conversation on the subject of religious freedom in the U.S. *As with all of our events, this event is open to anyone and everyone, and although we will be framing the issue with philosophical insights, no prior familiarity with philosophy is necessary. There are no rules other than to be respectful of the views and ideas of others. Although disagreement and tension are inevitable and welcome in a gathering such as this, those who make others feel unwelcome or unsafe will not be tolerated and will be asked to leave.