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31 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 253 (2017)
The Equivalence of Religion and Conscience

handle is hein.journals/ndlep31 and id is 269 raw text is: 


                         AND CONSCIENCE

                            LUCIEN J. DHOOGE*

Man worships not himself, but his Maker; and the liberty of conscience which he
claims is not the service of himself, but of his God. I

If an individual deeply and sincerely holds beliefs that are purely ethical or
moral in source and content... those beliefs certainly occupy in the life of that
individual 'a place parallel to that filled by... God' in traditionally religious
persons. '


     This Article examines issues posed by the equation of religious liberty with
     secular conscience, utilizing federal law and the law in those states which
     have adopted religious freedom restoration acts (RFRAs). The Article ini-
     tially addresses the definition of religion through an examination of appli-
     cable literature and federal and state case law. The same approach is
     utilized to define conscience. The Article then examines similarities
     between the two concepts and the implications of their equivalence. The
     Article concludes that religion and conscience are moral equivalents that
     require equal legal treatment. However, equal treatment should proceed
     with caution in order to address potential negative consequences.

                             I. INTRODUCTION

     There have been significant recent developments potentially
impacting religious liberty.3 Some of these developments have been

    *   Sue and John Staton Professor of Law, Scheller College of Business, Georgia
Institute of Technology.
    1. THOMAS PAINE, THE RIGHTS OF MAN, 65 (Ernest Rhys ed., 1791).
    2. Welsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 333, 340 (1970).
    3. See, e.g., Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584, 2598-2605, 2607-08 (2015) (con-
cluding that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry pursuant to the Due Pro-
cess and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and that there was no lawful
basis upon which states could deny recognition to lawful same-sex marriages performed
in other states); Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751, 2775 (2014) (hold-
ing that privately-owned for-profit business associations possess free exercise rights).

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