BU Professor Jay Wexler has posted an interesting new paper, Government Disapproval of Religion, on SSRN. Wexler notes that state and local governments increasingly take actions that disparage religious beliefs — a San Francisco ordinance condemning the Catholic Church’s refusal to allow gay adoptions, for example. He points out that such actions are subject to the Supreme Court’s endorsement test, which forbids state action that endorses or disapproves of religion, but argues that the test covers only “explicit negative references” to religion. That is, governments may not expressly disparage religion, but may take positions that incidentally offend religious believers. Wexler believes that his approach would allow government to function effectively, while avoiding messages that make particular religious communities feel like outsiders — the whole point of the endorsement test. Worth reading.