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Many states have historic preservation regulations that, as applied to properties owned by religious entities, have been challenged on free exercise grounds. Historic preservation programs, however, also include government grants for preservation efforts, and no court has yet been asked to rule on the permissibility of such grants. This Article analyzes the existing Supreme Court precedent on state financial support for the construction or preservation of places of worship or religious teaching. After briefly reviewing the movement from Separationists to Neutralism, this Article collects and appraises materials on historic preservation, which reveal a remarkable degree of disparity in preservation policies, as various levels of government struggle with changes in the relevant law. This Article concludes by invoking a principle of Religion Clause symmetry—what the government may regulate it may also subsidize—and by suggesting that the religionspecific line between permissible and impermissible subsidy (and regulation) should be drawn between the exteriors and interiors of houses of worship.

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Religion Law Commons