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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 July 2020

Stijn Smet*
Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law at Hasselt University and Senior Research Associate at Melbourne Law School,


When adjudicating religious disputes, constitutional courts often resort to a particular discursive register. The notions ‘tolerance’ and ‘respect’ are an integral part of this religion-specific constitutional register. But what do judges mean when they deploy the language of tolerance and respect? And what substantive role, if any, do both notions play in the constitutional interpretation of religious freedom? This article seeks to answer these conceptual and substantive questions by comparing constitutional case law on religious freedom from India, Israel and the United States. It also provides linkages to ongoing processes of (alleged) constitutional retrogression in the three jurisdictions.

Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press for the British Institute of International and Comparative Law

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I am indebted to Adrienne Stone, Farrah Ahmed, Tarun Khaitan and Iddo Porat for illuminating conversations about US, Indian and Israeli constitutional law and religion; and for insightful feedback on an earlier draft. I thank participants at the 2017 Legal Theory Scholars’ Workshop at Melbourne Law School and both reviewers for ICLQ, for useful comments and suggestions. The research presented in this article was funded by the Australian Research Council (grant ID: FL160100136).


1 Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 584 US ___ (2018) at 12.

2 ibid 17.

3 American Legion v American Humanist Association, 588 US ___ (2019) 18.

4 ibid 31.

5 ibid 28.

6 Among international courts, see especially the European Court of Human Rights. See, for instance, SAS v France [2014] ECHR 695, para 127 (‘the State's role as the neutral and impartial organiser of the exercise of various religions … requires the State to ensure mutual tolerance between opposing groups’).

7 As shown throughout this article.

8 Data from V-Dem indicate a downwards trend in the Liberal Democracy Index in all three countries since (at least) 2015, although the trend is less pronounced in respect of Israel. See <>.

9 Locke and Bayle, both Protestants, excluded Catholics from religious tolerance. Locke further denied tolerance to atheists.

10 Forst, R, ‘The Limits of Toleration’ (2004) 11(3) Constellations 312CrossRefGoogle Scholar; DAJ Richards, Toleration and the Constitution (Oxford University Press 1986) 89.

11 See for instance Mill, JS, On Liberty and Other Essays (Gray, J ed, Oxford University Press 1991)Google Scholar; Rawls, J, Political Liberalism (expanded edn, Columbia University Press 2005)Google Scholar.

12 Nussbaum, MC, Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America's Tradition of Religious Equality (Basic Books 2010)Google Scholar; Ceva, E, ‘Why Toleration Is Not the Appropriate Response to Dissenting Minorities’ Claims’ (2015) 23(3) European Journal of Philosophy 633CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Brown, W, Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire (Princeton University Press 2008)Google Scholar.

13 Forst (n 10) 315; Forst, R, Toleration in Conflict: Past and Present (Cambridge University Press 2013) 334Google Scholar.

14 McConnell, MW, ‘The Origins and Historical Understanding of Free Exercise of Religion’ (1990) 103 HarvLRev 1409Google Scholar, 1443; Nussbaum (n 12) 90.

15 Nussbaum (n 12) 90.

16 J Horton, ‘Why the Traditional Conception of Toleration Still Matters’ (2011) 14(3) Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 289, 292–4 and 299–302. See also P Jones, ‘Toleration and Tolerance: Between Belief and Identity’ in L Bialasiewicz and V Gentile (eds), Spaces of Tolerance: Changing Geographies and Philosophies of Religion in Today's Europe (Routledge 2020) 61–77 (arguing that tolerance of beliefs is the best possible approach; not second-best).

17 Horton (n 16) 290 (‘Negativity [lies] at the heart of … toleration’); F Boucher and C Laborde, ‘Why Tolerate Conscience?’ (2016) 10 CLPH 493, 505 (‘toleration is conceptually linked to a negative attitude of disapproval’).

18 I Carter, ‘Are Toleration and Respect Compatible?’ (2013) 30 JAppliedPhil 195, 196.

19 Nussbaum (n 12) 24. See also M Minow, ‘Tolerance in an Age of Terror’ (2006) 16(3) Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 453, 457. (‘Liberal tolerance has always struck me as a second-best, a kind of ‘‘putting up with’’ difference that falls short of genuine respect.’)

20 ibid.

21 Horton (n 16) 290.

22 Boucher and Laborde (n 17) 506 (referencing the ‘positive attitude of respect’).

23 B Leiter, Why Tolerate Religion? (Princeton University Press 2013) 68.

24 ibid 64.

25 Nussbaum (n 12) 24.

26 Leiter (n 23) 103.

27 Horton (n 16) 290; Carter (n 18) 196; Forst (n 10) 314–15.

28 Forst (n 10) 315.

29 Universal City Studios Inc v Films and Plays Censorship Board, HCJ 806/88 (15 June 1989) para 7.

30 Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc v Hialeah 508 US 520, 547 (1993).

31 J Gray, ‘Pluralism and Toleration in Contemporary Political Philosophy’ (2000) 48(2) Political Studies 323, 323 and 326.

32 Forst (n 10) 315.

33 ibid.

34 ibid 316 (discussing the 1598 Edict of Nantes).

35 ibid; Forst (n 13) 334.

36 Horton (n 16) 290–3.

37 Carter (n 18) 196–7.

38 ibid 198. See also Leiter (n 23) 72.

39 SL Darwall, ‘Two Kinds of Respect’ (1977) 88(1) Ethics 36, 45.

40 ibid 38.

41 ibid.

42 ibid 39.

43 ibid 199.

44 Carter (n 18) 196–7.

45 SR Bommai v Union of India (1994) 3 SCC 1, 147–148 (Sawant, J, and Kuldip Singh, J) (emphasis added).

46 Dara Singh v Republic of India (2011) 2 SCC 490, 531 (emphasis added).

47 GJ Jacobsohn, ‘Three Models of Secular Constitutional Development: India, Israel, and the United States’ (1996) 10(1) Studies in American Political Development 1, 1; D Barak-Erez, ‘Symbolic Constitutionalism: On Sacred Cows and Abominable Pigs’ (2010) 6(1) Law, Culture and the Humanities 420, 421.

48 S Fischer, ‘Intolerance and Tolerance in the Jewish Tradition and Contemporary Israel’ (2003) 2(1) Journal of Human Rights 65, 65; Jacobsohn (n 47) 10.

49 PB Kurland, ‘The Origins of the Religion Clauses of the Constitution’ (1986) 27(5) William Mary Law Review 839, 857.

50 Partition refers to the division of the territory of the former British colony in the independent States of India and Pakistan.

51 CS Adcock, The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom (Oxford University Press 2013) 14.

52 ibid.

53 ibid 166.

54 ibid 151 (explaining that ‘the founding text of the Hindu Nationalist movement, Veer Savarkar's Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?’ was published in 1923).

55 R Kapur, ‘The ‘‘Ayodhya’’ Case: Hindu Majoritarianism and the Right to Religious Liberty’ (2014) 29(1) Maryland Journal of International Law 305, 361–2.

56 ibid.

57 D Barak-Erez, ‘Law and Religion under the Status Quo Model: Between Past Compromises and Constant Change’ (2009) 30(6) CardozoLRev 2495, 2501–2. See for instance Horev v Minister of Transportation, HCJ 5016/96 (13 April 1997); Ressler v Knesset, HCJ 6298/07 (12 February 2012).

58 Horev (n 57) para 1.

59 R Hirschl, Comparative Matters: The Renaissance of Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press 2014) 186.

60 A von Bogdandy, ‘Comparative Constitutional Law as a Social Science? A Hegelian Reaction to Ran Hirschl's Comparative Matters’ (2016) Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law & International Law (MPIL) Research Paper No. 2016-09 <>.

61 Judgments were gathered through literature review on law and religion in the three jurisdictions, complemented with targeted database searches (Manupatra for India, Versa for Israel, and Justia for the United States) and the snowball method. Search terms used in the database search: tolerance; toleration; tolerate; equal respect AND religion; mutual respect AND religion; due respect AND religion; respect AND religion.

62 Due to language limitations and limited availability of English translations of Israeli Supreme Court judgments, the dataset in respect of Israel is smaller than that in respect of India and the United States. Based on a literature review, however, the dataset appears to include most leading Israeli freedom of religion judgments.

63 Ranging from 1954 to 2019 for India, 1951 to 2012 for Israel, and 1878 to 2019 for the United States.

64 Search terms used were ‘tolera*’ and ‘respect’. Combined, these allowed identification of multiple variations, including tolerance, toleration, tolerate, tolerant, tolerated, tolerable, intolerance, intolerant, intolerable, respect, equal respect, mutual respect, due respect, respected, respecting and respectful.

65 ‘Explicit’ refers to literal uses of the concepts tolerance and respect, including variations (as listed in n 64).

66 ‘Relevant’ means that uses such as ‘in respect of’, ‘we respectfully disagree’ or ‘respecting an establishment of religion’, among many others, are excluded from the data.

67 In India and the United States, these references are moreover spread over a larger number of judgments.

68 Roughly half (21) of the 45 judgments in the Indian dataset predate SR Bommai (n 45); the other half (23) postdate SR Bommai. Pre-SR Bommai, 8 of 21 judgments (or 38 per cent) contain references to tolerance and/or respect. From SR Bommai onwards, 16 of 23 judgments (or 70 per cent) contain references to tolerance and/or respect.

69 31 judgments in the US dataset predate Lynch v Donnelly 465 US 668 (1984); 24 judgments postdate Lynch. Pre-Lynch, 13 of 31 judgments (or 42 per cent) contain references to tolerance and/or respect. From Lynch onwards, 17 of 24 judgments (or 71 per cent) contain references to tolerance and/or respect.

70 Dozens of works in political philosophy identify and critique different conceptions of tolerance. The literature on respect, by contrast, remains scarce. For some important contributions, see Darwall (n 39); Ceva (n 12); Carter (n 18).

71 Yosifof v Attorney General, CrimA 112/50 (29 March 1951) (in which Justice Silberg notes as an afterthought that ‘bigamy was never an institution which was rooted, or permanent or favoured, in the life of the Jewish people. It was merely “tolerated”’ (Silberg, J, para 17)).

72 The notion of tolerance does not feature in the landmark 1878 Reynolds ruling, although the judgment does contain a reference to disapproval: ‘Polygamy has always been odious among the northern and western nations of Europe.’ See Reynolds v United States 98 US 145, 164 (1878). The 1890 Davis judgment does reference tolerance explicitly, but only once: ‘While … free exercise [of religion is] permitted, it does not follow that everything which may be so called can be tolerated.’ See Davis v Beason 133 US 333, 345 (1890).

73 State of Bombay v Narasu Appa Mali (Bombay HC) 1951 SCC Online Bom 72.

74 Determined on the basis of discussion in the literature and citations in later judgments.

75 Ranging from zero references to dozens; and regardless of whether references were to tolerance or respect.

76 Including, insofar as possible, judgments on issues that cut across at least two jurisdictions (for instance on polygamy and slaughter of animals). Also including both establishment and free exercise cases in the US dataset.

77 GJ Jacobsohn, Constitutional Identity (Harvard University Press 2010) 111.

78 13 of the 21 judgments (or 62 per cent) that predate SR Bommai (n 44) do not contain any explicit references to tolerance or respect (or variations thereof). Of the remaining eight, seven contain only a single reference (the eighth judgment contains five references: one to respect, four to tolerance. See Bijoe Emmanuel v State of Kerala (1986) SCC 615.

79 SR Bommai (n 45) 147–148 (Sawant, J, and Kuldip Singh, J).

80 17 of the 24 judgments (or 71 per cent) in the dataset from SR Bommai (n 45) onwards contain explicit references to tolerance and/or respect (this includes SR Bommai itself; in contrast to the data in n 68). In those 17 judgments, the number of references is also noticeably higher than in the pre-SR Bommai era, at an average of 5.3 references per judgment (compared to an average of 1.5 references in the eight pre-SR Bommai judgments mentioned in n 67).

81 Hinsa Virodhak Sangh v Mirzapur Moti Kuresh Jamat (2008) 5 SCC 33, 50; Kailas v State of Maharashtra (2011) 1 SCC 801; Prafull Goradia v Union of India (2011) 2 SCC 568, 574.

82 Commissioner of Police v Acharya Jagdishwaranand Avadhuta (2004) 12 SCC 770, 800 (Lakshmanan, J, dissenting). See also SR Bommai (n 44) 147–148 (Sawant, J, and Kuldip Singh, J) (‘religious tolerance [is] an essential part of secularism enshrined in our Constitution’).

83 Hinsa Virodhak Sangh (n 81) 50. See also Dara Singh (n 46) 531 (‘[o]ur concept of secularism is that the State … shall treat all religions … with equal respect’).

84 N Robinson, ‘Structure Matters: The Impact of Court Structure on the Indian and U.S. Supreme Courts’ (2013) 61(1) AmJCompL 173, 184.

85 The Court is composed of up to 31 justices, who mostly sit in benches of two or three to manage the Court's large caseload. See ibid 175–6 and 181.

86 ibid 184–5. See also AK Thiruvengadam, The Constitution of India: A Contextual Analysis (Hart 2017) 111.

87 G Bhatia, ‘What Is the Role of a Judge in a Polyvocal Court?’ (Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy Blog, 1 April 2017) <>.

88 Robinson (n 84) 185.

89 ibid 186.

90 ibid 188–9.

91 Abhiram Singh v CD Commachen, Supreme Court of India (2 January 2017) para 18 (Chandrachud, J, Kumar Goel, J, and Umesh Lalit, J) (‘the Constitution does not display an indifference to issues of religion’).

92 Acharya Jagdishwaranand Avadhuta (n 82) 800 (Lakshmanan, J).

93 SR Bommai (n 45) 147–148 (Sawant, J, and Kuldip Singh, J).

94 Dara Singh (n 46) 531. See also Bal Patil v Union of India (2005) 6 SCC 690, 704.

95 See SR Bommai (n 45) 166 (Ramaswamy, J.) (‘this Court did not accept the wall of separation between law and … religion’); Aruna Roy v Union of India (2002) 7 SCC 368, 406 (Dharmadhikari, J.) (rejecting the ‘complete[ly] neutral approach towards religions’ in favour of a ‘positive approach’). See also Jacobsohn (n 47) 3.

96 Aruna Roy (n 66) 406 (Dharmadhikari, J) (‘‘‘Secularism’’ … is susceptible to a positive meaning that is developing understanding and respect towards different religions’).

97 R Bhargava, ‘Introduction – Outline of a Political Theory of the Indian Constitution’ in R Bhargava (ed), Politics and Ethics of the Indian Constitution (Oxford University Press 2008) 10.

98 See Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992), section 1a (‘The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to anchor in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.’).

99 G Stopler, ‘Semi-liberal Constitutionalism’ (2019) 8 Global Constitutionalism 94, 101.

100 S Navot, The Constitution of Israel: A Contextual Analysis (Hart 2014) 71.

101 G Sapir and D Statman, ‘Minority Religions in Israel’ (2015) 30(1) Journal of Law and Religion 65, 67.

102 R Gavison, ‘Can Israel Be Both Jewish and Democratic?’ in A Ma'oz (ed), Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State (Jewish Law Association 2011) 115, 115.

103 ibid.

104 ibid 127.

105 Navot (n 100) 72.

106 United Mizrahi Bank v Migdal Cooperative Village, CA 6821/93 (9 November 1995) (Shamgar, P) para 51.

107 ibid (Barak, P) para 90.

108 Navot (n 100) 73.

109 ibid.

110 Shavit v Rishon Lezion Jewish Burial Society, CA 6024/97 (6 July 1999), para 22 (Barak, P, concurring).

111 Sapir and Statman (n 101) 68. See also N Perez, ‘The Limits of Liberal Toleration: The Case of the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel’ (2014) 56(2) Journal of Church and State 223, 234.

112 Jacobsohn (n 77) 272 (‘non-Jews, particularly Palestinian Arabs, are confronted with many reminders – both symbolic and material – that their status as full and effective citizens is something less than what is enjoyed by the favoured majority’). See the adoption of Basic Law: Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People (2018) (discussed below at nn 262–263 and accompanying text). See also Israel's persistent and serious violations of international law in the Occupied Territories.

113 See, for instance, D Barak-Erez, Outlawed Pigs: Law, Religion, and Culture in Israel (University of Wisconsin Press 2007) 11; Stopler (n 99) 107.

114 Barak-Erez (n 57).

115 ibid 2495.

116 ibid 2501–2.

117 See for instance Gur Aryeh v Second Television and Radio Authority, HCJ 1514/01 (18 June 2001) para 3 (‘When the petition was filed we sought to resolve the matter by amicable means.’). See also Hoffman v Director of the Western Wall, HCJ 257/89 (26 January 1994); Horev (n 57); Ressler (n 57).

118 Horev (n 57) para 93. See also Hoffman (n 117) para 2 (Shamgar, P) (‘a solution achieved through agreement and understanding has the advantage of deriving from the parties, and the spirit [of tolerance] that led to the agreement will imbue its results’).

119 Horev (n 57) para 31.

120 ibid, paras 31 and 93. See also ibid, para 4 (Tal, J, concurring) (‘We were not so fortunate as to see the matter resolved the way of tolerance. We must therefore assess the issues from a judicial perspective.’).

121 ibid, para 93.

122 See for instance Director General of the Prime Minister's Office v Hoffman, HCJ 4128/00 (6 April 2003).

123 Shavit (n 110) para 22 (Barak, P, concurring).

124 The judgment even contains a section on ‘Tolerance’. See Horev (n 57) para 102.

125 Universal City Studios (n 29) para 7 (‘Mutual tolerance among persons of different outlook, opinions and faiths is a fundamental precondition for the existence of a free, democratic society’).

126 Horev (n 57) para 56.

127 Universal City Studios (n 29) para 11 (Barak, P).

128 Horev (n 57) para 58.

129 Goldman v Weinberger 475 US 503, 523 (1986) (Brennan, J, and Marshall, J, dissenting).

130 Santa Fe Independent School District v Doe 530 US 290, 304 (2000) (citing Board of Regents of Univ of Wis System v Southworth 529 US 217 (2000)).

131 McCreary County v ACLU 545 US 844, 856 (2005) (partly citing Zelman v Simmons-Harris 536 US 639, 718 (2002) (Breyer, J, dissenting)).

132 For discussion, see McConnell (n 14).

133 Nussbaum (n 12) 34.

134 Kurland (n 49) 852.

135 ibid 857. See also County of Allegheny v ACLU 492 US 573, 589 (1989).

136 Goldman (n 129) 523 (Brennan, J, and Marshall, J, dissenting) (‘Almost 200 years after the First Amendment was drafted, tolerance and respect for all religions still set us apart from most other countries’).

137 J Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments (‘Torrents of blood have been spilt in the old world, by vain attempts of the secular arm, to extinguish Religious discord, by proscribing all difference in Religious opinion.’).

138 Nussbaum (n 12) 348; McConnell (n 14) 1416 and 1515.

139 Richards (n 10) 112. Note, however, that Jefferson also diverged from Locke, by rejecting establishment of religion and by extending toleration to Catholics and atheists.

140 ibid 133.

141 McConnell (n 14) 1431.

142 Nussbaum (n 12) 75. See also Kurland (n 49) 853.

143 Nussbaum (n 12) 90.

144 ibid 90. The adopted Declaration reads ‘all men are equally entitled to the full and free exercise of religion’.

145 McConnell (n 14) 1443; Nussbaum (n 12) 90.

146 Nussbaum (n 12) 90.

147 Letter from George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island (18 August 1790) <>.

148 Surprisingly, the records of the debate in the House of Representatives do not provide insights on the historical understanding of the Free Exercise Clause. See McConnell (n 14) 1481.

149 Locke argued that ‘the private judgment of any person concerning a law enacted in political matters, for the public good, does not take away the obligation of that law, nor deserve a dispensation’ (as cited in McConnell (n 14) 1434).

150 See Nussbaum (n 12).

151 Reynolds (n 72) 164. The Court also compares polygamy to, among others, human sacrifices. See ibid 166.

152 Davis (n 72) 345.

153 Nussbaum (n 12) 189.

154 Reynolds (n 72) 166.

155 Compare Wisconsin v Yoder 406 US 205 (1972), discussed below.

156 Jacobsohn (n 77) 235.

157 Minersville School District v Board of Education 310 US 586 (1940).

158 See West Virginia State Bd of Educ v Barnette 319 US 624 (1943) (treated as a free speech case).

159 Minersville (n 157) 594.

160 Nussbaum (n 12) 135–47.

161 Sherbert v Verner 374 US 398, 403–407 (1963).

162 Yoder (n 155) 220 and 225.

163 Sherbert (n 161) 415–416 (Stewart, J, concurring).

164 Yoder (n 155) 222. See also ibid 225.

165 ibid 226. But see ibid 218 (deploying the language of tolerance: ‘[under prevailing state law, the Old Order Amish] must either abandon belief and be assimilated into society at large or be forced to migrate to [a] more tolerant region’).

166 See for instance Goldman (n 129) 503 (ruling that the Free Exercise Clause does not mandate an exemption from military dress code regulations for a Jew who wore the yarmulke).

167 Employment Division v Smith 494 US 872 (1990).

168 ibid 908 (Blackmun, J, Brennan, J, and Marshall, J, dissenting).

169 ibid 881–883.

170 ibid 884–885.

171 ibid 879 and 890, respectively.

172 Lynch (n 69) 673.

173 ibid.

174 Lee v Weisman 505 US 577, 589 (1992).

175 Wallace v Jaffree 472 US 38, 53 (1985).

176 Justice Scalia, author of the majority opinion in Smith, was Catholic. But he also favoured the major monotheistic religions over various minority religions, which are often more practice-based. See McCreary County (n 131) 844 (2005) (Scalia, J, Rehnquist, CJ, and Thomas, J, dissenting) (‘the Establishment Clause permits … disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities’).

177 Smith (n 167) 890 (‘leaving accommodation to the political process will place at a relative disadvantage those religious practices that are not widely engaged in’).

178 ibid 610 (majority opinion). See also ibid 613 (arguing that ‘the county's endorsement of Christianity [represents] the respect for religious diversity that the Constitution requires’).

179 County of Allegheny (n 143) 657 (Kennedy, J, Rehnquist, CJ, White, J, and Scalia, J, concurring in part and dissenting in part).

180 American Legion (n 4) 31.

181 See, among others, Jaffree (n 175) 38; County of Allegheny (n 143) 573.

182 County of Allegheny (n 135) 625 (O'Connor, J, Brennan, J, and Stevens, J, concurring) (citing, in part, Justice O'Connor's concurring opinion in Lynch 668).

183 Smith (n 167) 890.

184 Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores 573 US ___ 5 (2014) (describing the Religious Freedom of Restoration Act as Congress's response to the Smith ruling, ‘to ensure broad protection for religious liberty’).

185 City of Boerne v Flores 521 US 507 (1997).

186 42 US C section 2000bb–1(a), (b).

187 42 US C section 2000cc.1(a).

188 RFRA and RLUIPA do not profess to interpret the Free Exercise Clause.

189 Cutter v Wilkinson 544 US 709, 717 (2005).

190 Hobby Lobby (n 184) 29.

191 ibid 3.

192 Masterpiece Cakeshop (n 2) 12 and 17.

193 Note, however, that Hobby Lobby and Cutter were not Free Exercise Clause cases. One should not deduce, therefore, from either judgment an overruling of Smith's tolerance-based understanding of the Free Exercise Clause.

194 See (n 12) and accompanying text.

195 But see Holt v Hobbs (2015) 135 S Ct 853 (in which the Court ruled that prohibiting a Muslim prisoner from growing a short beard violated RLUIPA).

196 For critical discussion of the majoritarian implications of Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop, see respectively G Stopler, ‘Hobby Lobby, S.A.S., and the Resolution of Religion-Based Conflicts in Liberal States’ (2016) 14(4) ICON 941–60; M Murray, ‘Inverting Animus: Masterpiece Cakeshop and the New Minorities’ (2018) The Supreme Court Review 257–97.

197 See American Legion (n 4) 48; Lynch (n 68) 686; Van Orden v Perry 545 US 677, 683–684 (2005).

198 American Legion (n 4) (Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor, dissenting) 3 and 6.

199 R Schragger and M Schwartzman, ‘Establishment Clause Inversion in the Bladensburg Cross Case’ (2019) ACS Supreme Court Review 21, 24.

200 C Joppke, ‘Beyond the Wall of Separation: Religion and the American State in Comparative Perspective’ (2016) 14(4) ICON 984–1008.

201 Trump v Hawaii 585 U. S. ___ (2018). For criticism, see ibid (Sotomayor, J, and Ginsburg, J, dissenting) (‘the majority here completely sets aside the President's charged statements about Muslims as irrelevant. That holding erodes the foundational principles of religious tolerance that the Court elsewhere has so emphatically protected’).

202 American Legion (n 4), for instance, clearly builds on Van Orden (n 197). For discussion, see Joppke (n 200).

203 Fischer (n 48) 79.

204 ibid.

205 Ragen v Ministry of Transport, HCJ 746/07 (5 January 2011) para 4 (Joubran, J, concurring).

206 ibid, paras 4–5.

207 See Shavit (n 110) para 19 (Barak, P, concurring) (‘A healthy society is based … on mutual compromise and tolerance.’); Horev (n 57) at para 46 (Or, J, dissenting) (‘mutual tolerance and compromise are the recipe for maintaining communal life in … Israeli society’).

208 Shavit (n 110) at para 19 (Barak, P, concurring).

209 ibid, para 22. See also ibid, para 2 (Englard, J, dissenting) (‘all agree that we must behave with tolerance in order to reach compromises’).

210 Ragen (n 205).

211 ibid, para 8.

212 ibid.

213 See also Director General of the Prime Minister's Office (n 114) para 47 (acknowledging that the ‘Women of the Wall’ have ‘a right … to pray at the Wall in their manner’, but nevertheless ruling that they should pray at a separate site of the Western Wall, ‘to minimize the affront that other religiously observant people sense’).

214 Solodkin v Beit Shemesh Municipality, HCJ 953/01 (14 June 2004) para 23.

215 Horev (n 57) para 102.

216 ibid.

217 Ragen (n 205) para 6 (Joubran, J, concurring).

218 ibid, para 8.

219 With the exception of unemployment compensation cases and ‘hybrid’ cases.

220 Even in the highly sensitive area of compulsory military conscription, the Israeli Supreme Court only found exemptions for Ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students unconstitutional after seven failed attempts at reaching a compromise solution and once exemptions had reached very high proportions (14 per cent of the conscription pool). See Ressler (n 57).

221 The discussion that follows is limited to one (albeit broad) segment of the Court's case law. For discussion of other segments of the case law, see for instance Stopler (n 99) (critically discussing case law on personal law).

222 This includes allegedly blasphemous films (see Universal City Studios Inc) and documentary films aired on TV on the Sabbath against the wishes of those featured in the film (see Gur Aryeh (n 117)).

223 Horev (n 57).

224 Shavit (n 110).

225 Solodkin (n 214).

226 Gur Aryeh (n 117) para 5.

227 Horev (n 57) para 58.

228 ibid, paras 5–58. See also Solodkin (n 214) para 26 (referencing the ‘‘‘level of tolerance’’ of injury to feelings, which each member of a democracy takes upon himself as part of the social consensus that forms the basis of society’).

229 Horev (n 57) para 58.

230 ibid, para 50; Gur Aryeh (n 117) para 8.

231 Gur Aryeh (n 117) para 6.

232 ibid.

233 Horev (n 57) para 50.

234 Gur Aryeh (n 117) paras 6 and 8 (in relation to freedom of expression); Horev (n 56) para 68 (in relation to freedom of movement).

235 Horev (n 57) para 57 (‘a democratic society must be most careful in recognizing the legitimacy of infringing on human rights for the purpose of protecting feelings’). But see Gur Aryeh (n 117) para 8 (Dorner, J, dissenting) (arguing that the majority's balance is struck against those whose religious feelings have been infringed, who ‘have nowhere ‘‘to retreat back’’ to’ whereas the other party does ‘have room to maneuver’).

236 Solodkin (n 214).

237 ibid, para 20.

238 See ibid, paras 5 and 20; Barak-Erez (n 47) 431–2.

239 Barak-Erez (n 47) 431–2.

240 Solodkin (n 214) para 23.

241 ibid, paras 25–34.

242 ibid, para 28.

243 ibid, para 32.

244 ibid, para 34.

245 Barak-Erez (n 113) 99 (‘Although the decision [in Solodkin] represented an attempt to refrain from normative judgment, at a deeper level it reflects a secular worldview completely alien to the symbolism of the pig prohibition in Jewish culture.’).

246 Barak-Erez (n 57) 2504–5.

247 Y Roznai, ‘Israel: A Crisis of Liberal Democracy?’ in MA Graber, S Levinson and M Tushnet (eds), Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? (Oxford University Press 2018) 355, 357.

248 I Porat, ‘Symposium–Part 6 of 7: Is There Constitutional Capture in Israel?’ (I•CONnect, 25 August 2017) <>.

249 See (nn 103–105) and accompanying text.

250 Basic Law: Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People, section 1(b) (‘The State of Israel is the nation state of the Jewish People, in which it realizes its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.’).

251 Roznai (n 247) 363–4.

252 ibid 372.

253 G Stopler, ‘Special Symposium–Part 2 of 7: Constitutional Capture in Israel’ (I•CONnect, 21 August 2017) <>.

254 R Ahren, ‘Israel Is Already in a Constitutional Crisis, Leading Law Scholar Warns’ Times of Israel (28 May 2019) <> (interview with Suzie Navot).

255 B Medina, ‘Symposium–Part 5 of 7: The Israeli Liberal Democracy: A Critical Assessment’ (I•CONnect, 24 August 2017) <>.

256 Porat (n 248).

257 Hernandez v Commissioner 490 US 680, 699 (1989) (‘It is not within the judicial ken to question the centrality of particular beliefs or practices to a faith’).

258 R Sen, ‘Secularism and Religious Freedom’ in S Choudhry, M Khosla and PB Mehta (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution (Oxford University Press 2016) 902.

259 I am grateful to Farrah Ahmed for explaining this aspect of Indian constitutional law and religion.

260 See S Shankar, ‘A Juridical Voyage of “Essential Practices of Religion”: From India to Malaysia and Pakistan’ (2016) 60(8) American Behavioral Scientist 941, 948.

261 The doctrine is contested. See, for instance, J Neo, ‘Definitional Imbroglios: A Critique of the Definition of Religion and Essential Practice Tests in Religious Freedom Adjudication’ (2018) 16(2) ICON 574, 576 (‘a deferential approach that relies primarily on the self-definition of the religious claimant is to be preferred’); RA Abeyratne, ‘Privileging the Powerful: Religion and Constitutional Law in India’ (2018) 13(2) ASJCL 307, 330 (‘the Court must abandon the “essential practice test”’).

262 Indian Young Lawyers Association v State of Kerala 2018 SCC Online, para 112 (‘Article 25 merely protects the freedom to practise rituals, ceremonies, etc. which are an integral part of a religion’).

263 Thiruvengadam (n 86) 170.

264 Commissioner Hindu Religious Endowments Madras v Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt 1954 SCC Online, para 20.

265 ibid, para 23.

266 See for instance Rev Stainislaus v State of Madhya Pradesh (1977) 1 SCC 677 (on proselytism).

267 Durgah Committee v Syed Hussain Ali 1962 SCC Online, para 33.

268 ibid.

269 ibid.

270 See Indian Young Lawyers Association (n 262) para 35 (Chandrachud, J) (noting that the cited passages in Durgah Committee were ‘considered a necessary safeguard to ensure that superstitious beliefs would not be afforded constitutional protection in the garb of an essential religious practice’).

271 Tilkayat Shri Govindlalji v State of Rajasthan, as cited in R Sen, Articles of Faith: Religion, Secularism, and the Indian Supreme Court (Oxford University Press 2010) 56.

272 Durgah Committee (n 267) para 33.

273 Robinson (n 84) 182.

274 Constitution of India, art 25(2)(a)–(b).

275 See, for instance, Narasu Appa Mali (n 73) para 9.

276 See Indian Young Lawyers Association (n 262) para 16 (Chandrachud, J) (‘Much of our jurisprudence on religion has evolved, as we shall see, around what constitutes an essential religious practice’).

277 Sastri Yagnapurushadji v Muldas Bhudardas Vaishya 1966 SCC Online, paras 50 and 55.

278 Indian Young Lawyers Association (n 262).

279 Indian Young Lawyers Association (n 262) para 122 (‘In no scenario, it can be said that exclusion of women of any age group could be regarded as an essential practice of Hindu religion and on the contrary, it is an essential part of the Hindu religion to allow Hindu women to enter into a temple as devotees and followers of Hindu religion and offer their prayers to the deity.’).

280 PB Mehta, ‘Passion and Constraint – Courts and the Regulation of Religious Meaning’ in Bhargava (n 98) 323.

281 ibid 337.

282 Jacobsohn (n 48) 42; Sen (n 271) 41.

283 Sastri Yagnapurushadji (n 277) para 33; Ismail Faruqui v Union of India (1994) 6 SCC 360, 442 (Barucha, J, and Ahmadi, J, dissenting).

284 Sen (n 271) 5.

285 ibid 8.

286 SR Bommai (n 45) 236 (Jeevan Reddy, J, and Agrawal, J).

287 ibid (emphasis added).

288 R Bajpai, ‘Minority Representation and the Making of the Indian Constitution’ in Bhargava (n 97) 364. See also Adcock (n 51) 168 (‘By the end of the 1920s … [t]he secularist ideal of Tolerance was conjoined with a trope of Hindu gentleness, generosity, and culturedness … [reconfiguring tolerance] to posit an essential difference between tolerant, ‘‘secular’’ Hindus, and Muslims.’).

289 ibid 194.

290 Sen (n 271) 159.

291 Mehta (n 280) 312.

292 Sastri Yagnapurushadji (n 277) para 29 (‘Hindu religion … may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more’).

293 Kapur, R, ‘A Leap of Faith: The Construction of Hindu Majoritarianism through Secular Law’ (2014) 113(1) South Atlantic Quarterly 109CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 111. See also Sen (n 271) 198 (describing this evolution as a ‘complete negation of what Gajendragadkar had originally set out to achieve’).

294 Kapur (n 293) 121.

295 Ramesh Yeshwant Prabhoo (1996) 1 SCC at 159.

296 ibid 161.

297 ibid 162.

298 ibid.

299 Abeyratne (n 261) 310; Thiruvengadam (n 86) 202; Kapur, R, ‘“Belief” in the Rule of Law and the Hindu Nation and the Rule of Law’ in Chatterji, AP, Blom, TB and Jaffrelot, C (eds), Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism is Changing India (Hurst 2019) 353, 353–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

300 TB Hansen, ‘Democracy Against the Law: Reflections on India's Illiberal Democracy’ in Chatterji et al., Majoritarian State (n 299) 19–39.

301 C Jaffrelot, ‘A De Facto Ethnic Democracy? Obliterating and Targeting the Other, Hindu Vigilantes, and the Ethno-State’ in Chatterji et al., Majoritarian State (n 299) 41, 41.

302 T Khaitan, ‘Killing a Constitution with a Thousand Cuts: Executive Aggrandizement and Party-State Fusion in India’ (forthcoming in Law and Ethics of Human Rights) <>.

303 Jaffrelot (n 301) 43.

304 Another example is the alteration, in August 2019, of the constitutional status of the Muslim-majority states of Jammu and Kashmir through questionable means (ie the use of a Presidential Order and Governor Rule). For discussion, see G Bhatia, ‘Undermining Constitutional Resilience: Judicial Endorsement of the Imperial Executive’ (draft paper on file with the author).

305 Kapur (n 299) 354.

306 Another divisive issue is the persistence of Muslim personal law outside codification. See Sarla Mudgal v Union of India (1995) 3 SCC 635, 650 (‘The Hindus along with Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains have forsaken their sentiments in the cause of the national unity and integration, some other communities would not, though the Constitution enjoins the establishment of a ‘‘common civil Code’’ for the whole of India.’). See also Shayara Bano v Union of India 2017 SCC Online at para 25 (Nariman, J, and Lalit, J) (‘it is clear that Triple Talaq is only a form of Talaq which is permissible in law, but at the same time, stated to be sinful by the very Hanafi school which tolerates it. According to [our established case law], therefore, this would not form part of any essential religious practice.’). For critical discussion of Shayara Bano, see Kapur (n 299).

307 I use ‘(re)construct’ and ‘(re)build’ to indicate that it is disputed that there ever stood a temple to Lord Ram on the disputed site.

308 Kapur (n 293) 113.

309 Ismail Faruqui (n 283) 418.

310 ibid 415–416 and 418.

311 M Siddiq (D) Thr Lrs v Mahant Suresh Das 2019 SCC Online.

312 ibid, para 82.

313 ibid, para 83.

314 Thiruvengadam (n 86) 108.

315 State of Gujarat v Mirzapur Moti Kureshi (2005) 8 SCC 534.

316 For discussion, see Barak-Erez (n 47).

317 As Jaffrelot notes, ‘[t]he sacred cow is an identity symbol. [that] has become the focus of intense activism on the part of Hindu vigilantes [leading to] a series of lynchings of Muslims’. See Jaffrelot (n 301) 59.

318 Mirzapur Moti Kureshi (n 315) 555. The case was litigated under the right to carry on a trade or business (Constitution of India, art 19), not under freedom of religion, because the Supreme Court had already rejected the argument that the Muslim religious practice of sacrificing a cow on Eid al-Adha is an essential practice of Islam. See Mohd. Hanif Quareshi v State of Bihar 1958 SCC Online, para 13.

319 Mirzapur Moti Kureshi (n 315) 555.

320 ibid 571.

321 ibid 555.

322 Thiruvengadam notes that the process of enacting absolute bans on cow slaughter has further accelerated since the 2014 electoral victory of the BJP. See Thiruvengadam (n 86) 108.

323 But see Brown (n 12); Berger, B, ‘The Cultural Limits of Legal Tolerance’ (2008) 21(2) Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 245CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 248 (‘the rhetoric of … tolerance … can be experienced as a language of power’).

324 See for instance Jones (n 16) (mentioning the argument from power against tolerance, but only engaging with the argument from disapproval).

325 See for instance Horton (n 16) 290–2 (discussing objections to tolerance as targeting the ‘negative, condescending, judgmental character’ of tolerance). See also the (other) sources cited in (n 16) and (n 18). But see Brown (n 11).

326 Horton (n 16); Jones (n 16).

327 See Smet, S, ‘The Pragmatic Case for Legal Tolerance’ (2019) 39(2) OJLS 344CrossRefGoogle Scholar.