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Unpublished Paper
Preaching, Fundraising and the Constitution: On Proselytizing and the First Amendment
ExpressO (2007)
  • Mark Strasser

In a series of cases, the Court has suggested that proselytizing, whether or not including solicitation of donations, is entitled to robust constitutional protection. The Court recently affirmed that view in Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Incorporated v. Village of Stratton. Yet, the relevant jurisprudence is much less clear than either the Court or commentators seem willing to admit. When one considers the cases involving the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), one sees that the protections for proselytizing, especially when involving solicitation, are much weaker than might first be thought. This Article explores the proselytizing cases, showing why and how the jurisprudence is unsettled, even after one takes into account the differing roles of the government and the varying state interests implicated in these cases. The article concludes that the disparity in the cases can be explained in part by the Court’s own ambivalence with respect to how religious speech should be treated and with respect to the degree to which religious fundraising should be treated like religious speech.

  • proselytize,
  • preach,
  • Jehovah's Witness,
  • First Amendment,
  • religion
Publication Date
September, 2007
Citation Information
Mark Strasser. "Preaching, Fundraising and the Constitution: On Proselytizing and the First Amendment" ExpressO (2007)
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