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Abstract

The last three decades have witnessed tectonic shifts in the doctrine and political valence of laws protecting religious exercise. In this Note, I analyze how this change has created the potential for sanctuary churches to receive greater legal protections today than during the 1980s sanctuary movement. This case study illustrates significant shifts in religious accommodation doctrine and helps to illuminate the transsubstantive nature of religious exercise protections. By drawing attention to sanctuary claims, this Note also helps to disrupt the existing partisan divide over religious freedom by reminding progressives of the potential value of RFRA claims for marginalized individuals, while highlighting to conservatives the importance of placing limits on religious accommodation claims. My hope is that this will motivate a return to an earlier consensus around accommodation as a means to protect systemically vulnerable groups and individuals in our society.

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