A recent issue of THE FEDERAL LAWYER contained a review of a book on religion and the state, Brian Leiter's WHY TOLERATE RELIGION?
Okay, the title is rather provocative. But that's how one sells books nowadays. ANyway, I confess that everything I know of the book comes from the review, all the following quotations are second hand. Shame on me.
The heart of the book:
"[I]t is not obvious why the state should subordinate its other morally important objectives -- safety, health, well-being, equal treatment before the law -- to claims of religious conscience."
Related (but distinct) claim is that "religious claims of conscience have no greater entitlement to exemptions than other nonreligious claims of conscience."
It is appropriate, Leiter thinks, for a government "to say, the law is the law, and there will be no exemptions for claims of conscience, religious or otherwise."
But Leiter approves of this no-exemptions stance only with a caveat. "A law must genuinely have neutral objectives," it must not be animated at any level by bias against a religion. France's prohibition of head covering is an example that, in Leiter's view anyway, fails this test.