Changing Demographics and the Future of Religious Exercise

Post-Enlightenment Western religion, and legal frameworks responding to it, place special emphasis on individuality and personal conscience. But as the racial and ethnic makeup of the nation evolves, an increasing portion of the nation’s population follows religious traditions that emphasize communal practices. Thus, as demographics change, the appearance of religious exercise will change too. Recent scholarly critique, which questions robust protections for religious free exercise, should consider how certain protections may be particularly valuable for minority, but growing, religious perspectives. Specifically, protections for institutional free exercise and religious land use, with the proper limitations, should be seriously considered as desirable safeguards of minority rights. Such approaches to religious liberty law would respect the communal and embodied nature of religious life which looks to expand in years to come.