What should we make of recent claims that religion is somehow being driven out of the “public square”? What is the public square and what are the legal rules and—equally important—the ethical considerations governing public expression on religious issues? When should individuals, organizations, and businesses have a right to claim an exemption from neutral laws and regulations on religious grounds? Within the structure of the First Amendment, the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause are two sides of the same coin. They work together to ensure that many faith traditions and moral codes can be observed, simultaneously and respectfully, by those living in the US. But you wouldn’t know it from the sensational coverage of reproductive health issues, the misrepresentation of Islam in the popular media, and the persistent insistence that our nation be recognized as an essentially Christian one. How can we better understand the many legal issues at play in these typically over-simplified civil liberties clashes?
Omar Kader, David Scott, Karen Williams McCreary, Russell Arben Fox