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Unpublished Paper
Religious Pretenders in the Courts: Unmasking the Imposters
ExpressO (2013)
  • John O. Hayward, Bentley College
When courts decide First Amendment “Free Exercise” cases, they often are confronted with the daunting task of defining what exactly is a “religion.” This article examines how judicial definitions and interpretations of religious faith have evolved over many decades, including legal recognition of Wicca (modern day witchcraft) and Hare Krishna as “religions,” as well as courts steering clear of the issue whenever possible, for example, when faced with an adherent of the “Church of Body Modification” who claims her employer’s dress code violates her religion. It also explores how courts have sought to uncover deception and fraud hiding behind disingenuous invocations of religious belief, especially regarding marijuana use. Finally, it advances a definition of “religion” in the hope of advancing judicial appreciation and understanding of this age-old human phenomenon.
  • Religious Freedom,
  • Free Exercise of Religion,
  • Marijuana & Religion,
  • First Amendment
Publication Date
September 11, 2013
Citation Information
John O. Hayward. "Religious Pretenders in the Courts: Unmasking the Imposters" ExpressO (2013)
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