Journal Article

Religious freedom in Canada and the United States

Christopher L. Eisgruber and and Mariah Zeisberg

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 4, issue 2, pages 244-268
Published in print April 2006 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online April 2006 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icon/mol004
Religious freedom in Canada and the United States

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This article compares the constitutional treatment of religion in the United States and Canada in light of differing patterns of religious practice in the two countries. It focuses on two questions. First, to what extent might constitutional norms or constitutional structures have contributed to their differing levels of religiosity? Though the evidence is inconclusive, the article argues that there are several constitutional differences—including differences with regard to the disestablishment of religion and the fragmentation of political authority into multiple jurisdictions—that might have affected levels of religiosity significantly. Second, to what extent have the religious differences between the two countries produced different constitutional norms of religious freedom? The article argues that, in general, the religious freedom jurisprudence of the two countries is surprisingly convergent, but there is one important difference: the idea of a “strict separation of church and state” pursuant to which any state support for religion or any state entanglement with religion is unconstitutional, has great power in the United States but little in Canada. Discrepancies between Canadian and American religious history have undoubtedly contributed to this difference.

Journal Article.  10981 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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