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Despite multiple international and regional prohibitions against religious discrimination, many European Democracies continue to discriminate against minority religions. In particular, this discrimination often occurs due to definitional ambiguity surrounding the term “religion.” Using the examples of Russian, Belgian, French, and German law, this Note reveals how many countries violate the international treaties to which they are signatories by defining many religious groups as “sects,” “cults,” or groups otherwise unworthy of official “religion” status. After discussing the necessary components of a succesful definition of “religion,” this Note argues that the most effective way to protect freedom of religion is to abandon the term “religion” altogether and adopt a polythetic approach that protects a list of various religious practices, not religion, from discriminatory treatment.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
6 Sep 2022
194 kB



  • Subject
    • Religion Law

  • Journal title
    • Boston College International and Comparative Law Review

  • Volume
    • 28

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Pagination
    • 429

  • Date submitted

    6 September 2022