New Restrictions in the Russian Religious Law: What Should Believers Expect?

Olga Sibireva is the head of the Religion in Secular Society project at the Moscow-based SOVA Center for Information and Analysis

In Russia, religious discrimination is often directed at new religious movements and Protestant organizations, and this trend has only intensified over the years. Increasingly strict state policies towards religious minorities are manifested, primarily, at the legislative level.

The Russian Law On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations provides basic regulations for religious life. It was adopted in 1997 and has been amended almost every year since then; many of these amendments have worsened the plight of freedom of religion and belief in Russia.


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The U.S. Supreme Court and Pandemic Restrictions on Religious Worship

Frederick Mark Gedicks is Guy Anderson Chair and Professor of Law in the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University

The current pandemic has presented challenges to normal life in the United States and elsewhere, including to the free exercise of religion. The U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in several times on COVID-related free exercise claims; though these are summary dispositions, they illuminate a doctrinal fault line that is likely to emerge in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia (3rdCir. 2019), a free-exercise case currently pending before the Court.

The Supreme Court’s Jurisprudence on Pandemic Restrictions

Employment Division v. Smith (1990) famously held that the First  Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion does not include the right of believers to be excused from complying with generally applicable laws that incidentally burden their religious beliefs or practices. Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah (1993) clarified that Smith does not apply to laws which target religion with burdens from which comparable secular activities are relieved. Together, Smith and Lukumi transformed the free exercise of religion in the U.S. from a liberty to an equality right more consistent with the rule of law: believers are to be treated no better than other people, but also no worse.


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Post-Liberal Religious Liberty: Forming Communities of Charity

Joel Harrison is the author of the recently published Post Liberal Religious Liberty: Forming Communities of Charity (Cambridge University Press, 2020). He is Senior Lecturer in Law at Sydney Law School, University of Sydney. The following is an edited version of a conversation with David Taylor at The Eucatastrophe.

DT: Your account of the purpose of religious liberty begins provocatively: “Religious liberty protects the quest for true religion.” What do you mean by “true religion” and how does this differ from the typical use of “religion” in religious liberty discussion?

JH: By true religion, I mean a religious quest to rightly order our lives towards God. Finding out the truth of religion—what it consists of, what is its end—matters. Augustine writes of “right flowing from the source of rightness.” He means forming a community that lives well together, in light of the epiphany of God. True religion then concerns not simply the individual, but the shape of the political community and the role of political authority in furthering the common good. I argue that religious liberty consequently means civil authorities protecting and encouraging this quest. Ultimately, it concerns protecting the free creation of communities of solidarity, fraternity, and charity—the love of God and neighbor.


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