The Point: Animal Rights or Religious Freedom?


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In Belgium, animal-rights activists are celebrating new laws that require meat processors to stun animals before slaughtering them.

But this means that Jews and Muslims can no longer follow their religious dietary laws as they dispatch their dinner, since these require that an animal not be harmed prior to slaughter.

The Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations is challenging the new law in court, insisting that “The politicians are not there to define what is permitted and not permitted under religious law.”

But the law’s supporters argue that the law applies to “each and every single Belgian citizen period, whatever his religious beliefs may be.”

Any of this sound familiar? Well, it should. As a result of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Employment Division v. Smith, laws that a) don’t target religion and b) are generally applicable to all citizens, are perfectly constitutional. Which means the Belgian law would probably pass muster here.

It’s an ominous and stunning reminder (pardon the pun) how vulnerable religious freedom truly is.


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Animal slaughter ruling in Belgium stirs religious freedom debate
  • Veronica Zaragovia
  • Al Jazeera
  • September 08, 2019

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