Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


The Soviet and American bodies of law on religion are similar in some respects, despite drastically different ideological and political foundations. This Article compares Soviet and American law on religion. It first compares the common law system used by the United States to the civil law system of the Soviet Union. It next examines the politics, ideologies and traditions underlying Soviet and American law on religion and provides a general look at the rights afforded to individuals. The discussion highlights the similarities and differences between Soviet constitutional guarantees and American first amendment rights. It points out that the texts of the two constitutions are very similar; differences in implementation stem from differences in the underlying politics and ideologies of the two countries. The author concludes that, while the actual treatment of religion diverges greatly in the two countries, American and Soviet constitutional law as interpreted and applied have converged to an extent.