A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Religious Persecution: Casting Up a Dread Balance Sheet

R. George Wright *

 

The worst forms of religious persecution are unfathomably horrific. American law has extinguished the most severe forms of classical and modern public religious persecution. Whether other forms of public religious persecution have been reduced, or are instead on the increase, is controversial and undoubtedly important. This particular question, as briefly illustrated below, is unfortunately not subject to any reasoned, consensual resolution. It should come as no surprise when commentators raise largely unresolvable claims as to the existence of public persecution or of the burdening of religious rights of conscience, doctrine, and practice.

 

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* Lawrence A. Jegen Professor of Law, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law; J.D., 1982, Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis; Ph.D., 1976, Indiana University; A.B., 1972, University of Virginia. The author’s thanks are hereby extended to Samantha Everett and Angela Stackhouse. The subtitle of this article is adapted from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Speech to the House of Commons: Their Finest Hour (June 18, 1940), in THE INTERNET HISTORY SOURCEBOOK (Paul Halsall ed., 1998), http://www.fordham.edu/HALSALL/MOD/1940churchill-finest.html [hereinafter Their Finest Hour].