When adjudicating religious disputes, constitutional courts often resort to a particular discursive register. The notions ‘tolerance’ and ‘respect’ are an integral part of this religion-specific constitutional register. But what do judges mean when they deploy the language of tolerance and respect? And what substantive role, if any, do both notions play in the constitutional interpretation of religious freedom? This article seeks to answer these conceptual and substantive questions by comparing constitutional case law on religious freedom from India, Israel and the United States. It also provides linkages to ongoing processes of (alleged) constitutional retrogression in the three jurisdictions.