Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Elissa B. Alzate
    Pages 29-61
  3. Elissa B. Alzate
    Pages 89-101
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 103-104

About this book


This book assesses the concept of religious liberty in the United States according to the political theory of John Locke. Protecting the individual freedom of religion without infringing on the rights of others or on legitimate political authority requires delicate balance. The work analyzes Locke’s concept of religious liberty and, from it, derives nine criteria for locating that balance. The most important of these criteria requires government neutrality and equality before the law. The United States has historically struggled with providing this balance, particularly through Supreme Court decisions, resulting in the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Application of Locke’s criteria for balancing religious liberty and government authority to three recent cases—a government employee, an employer, and a small business owner—reveal that RFRA legislation threatens this balance by undermining neutral government action and treats citizens unequally before the law.


Religious liberty John Locke American founder religion Kim Davis Hobby Lobby Arlene's Flowers Second Treatise liberty of conscience Religious Freedom Restoration Act Sherbert Smith

Authors and affiliations

  • Elissa B. Alzate
    • 1
  1. 1.Deparment Political ScienceWinona State UniversityWinonaUSA

Bibliographic information