Professor Michael Helfand, "Religious Freedom and Jewish Experience" -- Jewish Review of Books
Professor Michael A. Helfand's opinion article, "Religious Freedom and Jewish Experience," is published in the Jewish Review of Books. The article considers the Supreme Court case Carson v. Makin and the constitutional distinction between religious status and religious use in government funding programs.
Excerpt from "Religious Freedom and Jewish Experience"
The problem is that the intuitive appeal of the distinction between religious status and religious use relies on a largely Protestant conception of religious experience that sees faith as a matter of personal belief rather than religious conduct. Thus, religious discrimination based on institutional identity is constitutionally off limits, but religious discrimination that excludes funding of religious ritual and practice is, at least sometimes, constitutionally acceptable. This makes the stakes of Carson v. Makin particularly high for American Jews because they, along with Muslims, Catholics, and others, organize their religious lives around routine religious acts. If the Supreme Court doesn’t give up the constitutional distinction between status and use, it will essentially authorize the state of Maine, and hence, other government entities, to discriminate against religious groups in their allocation of government funds.
The complete article may be found at Jewish Review of Books