Millicent Caughey | Duke University, Religious Studies and History, BA`25
“Faith and the Law: The Extent of Religious Freedom in Modern America”
Abstract: Under the US Constitution, every American is guaranteed a right to believe and practice the faith they choose freely. However, in practice, true religious toleration is incredibly difficult. The interwoven nature of many religious people, their faith, ethics, and politics often makes the three difficult to parse out. While much Christian tradition and thought has been treated as secular, more obscure faith traditions have been banned or made difficult. In my research, I want to understand the limitations of religious freedom in the United States from two perspectives. First, I want to understand what religious freedom means in a country with a profoundly religious history, and second, I want to examine how modern jurisprudence treats religious liberty issues. Ultimately, I want to understand the extent to which religious practice in the country is truly free, the nature of the so-called paradox of religious freedom, and the extent to which it is the law’s fault.