6 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 219 (1982-1983)
Rendering unto Caesar: Defining Religion for Purposes of Administering Religion-Based Tax Exemptions

handle is hein.journals/hjlpp6 and id is 225 raw text is: RENDERING UNTO CAESAR:
DEFINING RELIGION FOR PURPOSES OF
ADMINISTERING RELIGION-BASED
TAX EXEMPTIONS
by
TERRY L. SLYE*
I. INTRODUCTION
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.... ' These first
words of the first amendment to the Constitution reveal how deep-
ly committed to freedom of conscience were the framers of our
charter of government. Professor Archibald Cox has noted that
even the order of the words is significant: The framers put
freedom of conscience first, and then moved on to freedom of
speech and the press. They were concerned above all else with
spiritual liberty: freedom to think, to believe, and to worship.2
This concern has not diminished with the passage of time. Justice
Stewart expressed his conviction that no liberty is more essential
to the continued vitality of the free society which our Constitution
guarantees than is the religious liberty protected by the Free Exer-
cise clause....' We as a nation are by heritage committed to
preserving broad religious liberty, both for those whose religious
beliefs have long been accepted as orthodox and for those espous-
ing novel religious beliefs which may seem strange, even pre-
posterous, to the bulk of the surrounding population.
Given this long heritage, it may be surprising to some to learn
that while the Constitution commands that religious belief be pro-
tected, it contains no definition of religion, no statement of
what beliefs or institutions are to be preserved. No doubt courts
who must struggle to determine what is a religion would find their
task much easier if a straightforward definition existed. Yet the
* B.A., 1979, Houghton College; J.D., 1982, Harvard Law School. The author is cur-
rently serving as clerk to Associate Justice C. Donald Peterson of the Minnesota Supreme
Court.
I U.S. CONST. amend. 1.
2 A. Cox, FREEDOM OF ExPRESSION 1 (1982).
3 Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 413 (1961) (Stewart, J., concurring).

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