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Boston University School of Law




In this short contribution to a symposium held at Boston University in the fall of 2012, I review Abner Greene's recent book Against Obligation by considering whether Greene's broad theory of freedom from state obligations under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment would protect the maniacal New York Giants fan "Paul from Staten Island," portrayed by the ridiculously talented Patton Oswalt in Robert Siegel's hilarious film "Big Fan." I also explain how I use the film in my Law and Religion class to teach the Free Exercise Clause and the deeply perplexing question of how the word "religion" ought to be defined in the First Amendment. Any theory of the Religion Clauses that would protect Paul from Staten Island, I suggest, might be a theory worth reconsidering.


Published as: "Some Thoughts on the First Amendment's Religion Clauses and Abner Greene's Against Obligation, with Reference to Patton Oswalt's Character 'Paul from Staten Island' in the Film Big Fan," in Symposium On Constitutional Obligation and Disobedience: A Symposium on Abner S. Green's Against Obligation and Louis Michael Seidman's On Constitutional Disobedience, 93 Boston University Law Review1363 (2013).

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