Religious Freedom and Anti-discrimination in Europe and the US: Generally Applicable Laws and Possible Exceptions

  • Iain McLean
  • Scot Peterson


The American legal scholar Douglas Laycock argues that the same-sex marriage debate has been an instance of the “Puritan mistake” (Laycock 2008). According to Laycock, the Puritans came to the United States to gain religious freedom, but once they had a theocracy in Massachusetts that was enough liberty for them: people of other Christian denominations and other faiths could go elsewhere if they wanted to be free. His example shows the difficulty in maintaining a level playing field among different, potentially-conflicting interests. Religious truth is one, which the Puritans were unwilling to compromise; ideology and public policy can also be uncompromising in their consequences.


Religious Organization Religious Freedom Conscientious Objection Religious Believer Reasonable Accommodation 
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© Iain McLean and Scot Peterson 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iain McLean
  • Scot Peterson

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