The Impossibility Of Religious Freedom

1713 WordsApr 21, 20177 Pages
The act of defining religion has been a contentious issue in a wide variety of situations, particularly in the United States. The US is a nation that prides itself on religious inclusivity and freedom. There are consequences to this belief and tenant. Through the social, legal and moral structures of the United States, defining religion has become imperative. In The Impossibility of Religious Freedom, Winifred Sullivan outlines the legal implications of defining religion in the United States. In order for religious freedom to be protected by the American state, religion must be clearly defined. As a result, religious theory must be used to maintain some semblance of religious freedom in the United States. Likewise, Josh Dubler’s Down in…show more content…
While there are specificities of the case that can help determine the individualized outcome of this particular case, the foundations of the legal problems in the case can be expanded to greater problems of religious definition in the United States. As shown through The Impossibility of Religious Freedom, religious theory is vital to the continuation of religious freedom protections, for better or worse, in the United States. The case that is highlighted by Sullivan revolves around the ability for citizens to use religious items around burial sites that extend beyond the city of Boca Raton’s regulatory codes. When some of these religious items around the burial sites were not permitted by the city, a group of citizens sued the city on the grounds that the city was preventing actions protected by the religious freedom clauses of the US Constitution. This case, like many others involving religious freedom decisions, required a real definition of religion. Religious theory was imperative to the outcome of this case. Sullivan writes, “If religion was whatever anyone said it was, the statute was unworkable and [Judge Ryskamp] did not feel it was his place to simply dismiss an act of the Florida legislature as nonsense. Religion therefore had to be measured and bounded by an expert test…”(Sullivan 105). These tests were determined by various religious scholars, including Sullivan, that testified in this case. Religious theory,
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