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Loyola University Chicago Law Journal




Every time I cross the border to the United States, I thank God I am a legal immigrant, white, and a citizen of the European Union and Germany, coming from a country and entering another where I expect my rights to be protected. The laws of the land may in part differ from the European ones, and even clash with some of my religious values and convictions. But since morality and positive laws never entirely coincide, the laws of a nation-state challenge me to reevaluate my convictions as much as I will challenge the rightness of some of the United States’ laws.1 Our identities entail multiple facets, mediated by the many social, cultural, religious, and political contexts that shape our lives. Everyone must navigate multiple identities in contexts of plural values and norms.2 At the turn of the century, philosophical and theological ethicists, together with political and social theorists, debated social and cultural transformations spurred by globalization and new transnational economic and cultural constellations, new technologies, the deregulation of the economic sector, and international treaties that shape international cooperation.3 But international terrorism motivated new forms of war a few years into the new millennium, the collapse of the financial markets caused a global economic crisis, and the recent rise of populism resulted in a radically changed international political landscape. The wave of nationalism in Europe, Asia, and the United States has pushed transnational problems such as global hunger, global poverty, global migration, and climate change to the background; instead, more and more countries debate their national and cultural identity.4 While my most fundamental religious conviction may be captured in Pope Francis’s call to “care for our common home,”5 this is not how the religious freedom debate is currently being shaped in the United States. In the following, I will contextualize the current religious freedom debate in three steps: first, I will explain the return of religion in the public sphere;6 second, I will attend to the historical context of the religious freedom debate;7 and third, I will address the politicization of religion, which includes my comments on Leslie Griffin’s analyses of the current lawsuits in the United States.8



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Loyola University Chicago




Author Posting © Loyola University Chicago, 2018. This article is posted here by permission of Loyola University Chicago for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Volume 50, Issue 1, 2018,

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.