Through the statutory mechanisms of RFRA and RLUIPA, Free Exercise jurisprudence has expanded the scope of religious protection. In the absence of a clear legal definition of religion, however, this protection has an unknown and biased reach. In particular, courts and legal scholars embody a misunderstanding of a burgeoning group of Americans who identify as “spiritual but not religious,” excluding them from religious protection. This Note uses a recent case, which dismissed as nonreligious the beliefs of a plaintiff whose beliefs are paradigmatic of this growing cohort, to analyze how the law defines religion. It argues that while such belief systems reject the institutional characteristics of organized religion, they are sufficiently analogous to religious belief systems to deserve the same legal protection.
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