Animal Law Review


Bruce Friedrich

First Page



In this Article, I contend that a belief in animal liberation qual­ifies as religion under the Free Exercise Clause jurisprudence of the United States Constitution. Thus, every time a prison warden, public school teacher or administrator, or government employer refuses to accommodate the ethical belief of an animal liberationist, they are infringing on that person's relig­ious freedom, and they should have to satisfy the same consti­tutional or statutory requirements that would adhere were the asserted interest based on more traditional religious exercise. One possible solution to the widespread violations of the First Amendment rights of animal liberationists would be the incor­poration of a 'Church of Animal Liberation' under the Internal Revenue Code (as a proper church or as a religious organiza­tion). This would help to protect the free exercise rights of those who believe in animal rights because it would give them a relig­ious organization-to reference with articles of incorporation that align with the jurisprudential definition of religion-in making their requests for religious accommodation. First, this Article discusses the constitutional definition of religion, what it means to believe in animal liberation, and animal liberation beliefs that circuit court precedent already recognizes as relig­ious. Then, it discusses how animal liberation-based free exer­cise conflicts would play out in practice (e.g., identifying when infringing on the rights of animal liberationists would require strict scrutiny and when it would not). Lastly, this Article sug­gests that incorporating a group (e.g., a 'Church of Animal Lib­eration') as a religious organization under the Internal Revenue Code might help to secure constitutional rights for animal liber­ationists, and explains what would be required to incorporate such an organization.



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