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This proposal is for the development of approximately 5-8 original pieces of scholarship challenging the defensive posture of much religious freedom scholarship today, especially respecting the freedom of religious institutions, and the subsequent presentation of the scholarship at a conference at the Antonin Scalia Law School in Spring 2022.

A great many statements by academics and religious institutions about religious freedom are defensive in nature. They too often play within the narrow lines drawn by judges, scholars interested in cabinning religious freedom, or scholars and lawmakers valorizing other social or ideological goals above religious freedom. Bolder claims about the good of religious freedom in the 21st century need to be asserted and to become part of the academic literature, and to correspondingly become part of arguments made to and by courts in religious freedom cases.

The big questions we seek to address are:
1) What goods and values, including and beyond secular goods and values, are promoted and furthered by religious exercise, including institutional religious exercise?
2) How, specifically, do religious values not only serve, but meet and even exceed, the currently ascendant values of equality, dignity, and freedom that are asserted as “compelling state interests” sufficient to burden religious freedom?
3) How can religious institutions be persuaded that it is in their and society’s interests to better understand and communicate the values of religious freedom and its practice in institutions?

The above points need to be better grasped by academics, litigators, rule-makers, and judges. Very importantly, however, they are also points that religions and religious leaders need to hear and better understand. Many religious leaders and institutions have lost heart. They seek only minimal accommodation from the state, and do not proactively articulate the advantages their teachings and community provide.