Courting Religion: The Judge between Caesar and God in Asian Courts
28 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2009
Religion is almost universally guaranteed as a fundamental liberty and human right, although the scope of religious freedom and understandings of religious identity within secular democracies are informed by the specific model of constitutional secularism practiced. States often evidence an ambivalent attitude towards religion, treating it as Law's Other, that is, a competing normative system which has regulative force on social behaviour and influences conceptions of citizenship and affective loyalties. This article examines the interpretive method of two secular Asian courts, which are meant to be bastions of impartiality, in negotiating questions of religious identity and religious freedom. It analyses the judicial weighting and balancing of relevant competing factors and considers the varied understanding of what secularity requires and whether the concerns of religious minorities are adequately safeguarded within secular polities where religion remains an important social force.
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