This Article explores the extent to which the Constitution requires exemptions from neutral laws of general applicability in order to protect the free exercise of religion. Part I sets forth the current Supreme Court jurisprudence in this area, focusing on the most recent cases, which suggest that only laws that are not neutral or generally applicable are subject to strict scrutiny; otherwise, the majority believes that neutral generally applicable laws are subject to rational basis review. Part I also includes a discussion of analogous First Amendment freedom of expression cases, especially the “expressive conduct” cases, in which the court uses intermediate scrutiny. Part II discusses the purpose of the Free Exercise Clause, the importance of government neutrality in religious matters and the freedom of conscience, and concludes by demonstrating how the Supreme Court’s misunderstanding of these points has prevented it from formulating an overarching theory that harmonizes the two Religion Clauses. Finally, Part III urges that the principle of government neutrality in religious matters be the overriding concern, leading to the inescapable conclusion that conduct motivated by religious beliefs should be analyzed by the same standards as conduct motivated by philosophical, moral, and political beliefs. To maintain neutrality between religion and non-religion, exemptions from neutral laws of general applicability should be given to both or to neither.

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