Is it possible to simply declare that you have started a new religion with arbitrary rules, and expect to enjoy all applicable first amendment protections for it? For example, if your religion just happens to forbid working on Mondays, could you then sue employers who refuse to accommodate you? If an employer refused to hire you because they didn't like that you participate in made up releigion, would that be legal?

My instinct is that the answer is no: Courts would probably view the religion as insincere, even if it was. Without a sizable congregation and a substantial history, it would probably not be considered a "real" religion. However, there have been new religions which succeeded in becoming officially recognized in the US. So what are the minimum conditions required for a religion to be recognized as genuine by the government?

  • Employer accommodations for religious beliefs are not mandated by the first amendment but by the civil rights act. The same is true for discrimination in hiring. – phoog Sep 9 '18 at 2:11
  • @phoog Well, what if it was a federal government job? – Consis Sep 9 '18 at 20:20
  • Maybe. The relationship between the government and its employees is in many ways more like that of a private employer with its employees, for example in the restriction of speech. I wouldn't be surprised if religious discrimination in federal employment had been legal before the civil rights act. – phoog Sep 9 '18 at 21:34

I can pull up cases later, but the answer is the opposite. The courts will not inquire into the validity of your religion.

If you claim a religion, they will treat it and Christianity and Judaism and Islam as equally fanciful. Google "Pastafarian driver license" to get an idea.

This doesn't necessarily mean your employers have to make accommodations, as they are not bound by the First Amendment, though many states have laws that may impose similar requirements. But if the law requires them to accommodate any religion, they would likely have to accommodate yours, as well.

  • 1
    Employers may not be bound by the first amendment, but they are subject to the civil rights act, which forbids discrimination on the basis of religion. – phoog Sep 9 '18 at 2:10
  • IIRC, the courts decided that claiming your Pastafarian beliefs require you to wear a colander on your head in official pictures wasn't grounds to allow the colander, so this can be pushed too far. I suspect that, if a Pastafarian were to wear a colander whenever outside his or her home, and pleaded religious conviction, the ruling would have been different. – David Thornley Sep 10 '18 at 21:20

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