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Tulsa Law Review

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religious freedom, Andrew Koppelman, Brian Leiter, theism, Constitution


What makes religion distinctive, and how does answering that question help us answer questions regarding religious freedom in a liberal democracy? In their books on religion in the United States under our Constitution, Andrew Koppelman (DefendingAmerican Religious Neutrality) and Brian Leiter (Why Tolerate Religion?) offer sharply different answers to this set of questions. This review essay first explores why we might treat religion distinctively, suggesting that in our constitutional order, it makes sense to focus on theism (or any roughly similar analogue) as the hallmark of religious belief and practice. Neither Koppelman nor Leiter focuses on this, in part because it seems to exclude nontheistic religions that are part of the American fabric. I think this is a mistake, and will explain why.