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This article will offer examples from three policies to demonstrate ways in which state policies are set up to socialize religious minorities and integrate secular values in (a) their institutional organization, (b) their religious activities, and (c) their official communications. Comparisons with the historically majoritarian Roman Catholic religion will demonstrate the hidden discriminations which are also present.

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The requirement for recertification of foreign-trained clergy is simply excessive. It is obvious that if religious organizations have not yet introduced such a procedure, it means that they recognize the qualifications of clergy educated outside of Russia. So, there is no reason for the state to doubt these qualifications either. For some religious organizations, it does not matter where exactly a person received spiritual education.

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Now, in reality, every secular system is, I think, some sort of hybrid. Even the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, which is held up as a paradigm of the statist model of rights, says men are born free and remain free and equal in rights. Some rights are limits on state powers. Here we think of classic civil rights, such as freedom of speech, association, assembly, the press, and freedom of religion. Other rights are entitlements, positive rights such as the right to education, health care, employment, and housing. These are not limits on state power, they are things citizens are entitled to receive from the state.

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Is the Court really prepared to insist, in the midst of a life-threatening pandemic, that state experts and officials treat religious school children identically to college students and office employees? That they may not distinguish kindergartners from retail customers? That the Court knows best how to assess the risk of transmission posed by each of the innumerable activities present in American life? Perhaps Justice Barrett has shifted the Court in this direction, though one may hope not: this sort of activist second-guessing would undermine democracy and the rule of law.

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Human Dignity Initiative

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with an invitation to a global conversation about preserving and protecting human dignity for everyone everywhere.

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