From Religious Freedom to Moral Freedom
RELIGION AND HUMAN RIGHTS, John Witte Jr. & M. Christian Green, eds., Oxford University Press, Forthcoming
25 Pages Posted: 27 May 2010 Last revised: 10 Mar 2020
Date Written: May 26, 2010
In one or another articulation, the right to religious freedom is a familiar part of national constitutions and of regional and international human rights instruments. The canonical articulation of the right is that of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States is one of more than 160 state parties. I argue in this essay that the logic (so to speak) of the best case for the right to religious freedom also supports an analogous right to moral freedom. At the end of the essay, I comment on the proper, and properly limited, role of religiously grounded moral premises as a basis of laws and other policies that implicate the right to moral freedom.
Note: This essay will appear in a symposium issue of the University of San Diego Law Review - a symposium issue devoted to freedom of conscience. A shorter version of the essay will appear in Religion and Human Rights, edited by John Witte Jr. and M. Christian Green (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Some of the material in this essay first appeared in my new book, The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2010), the table of contents and introduction to which are available athttps://ssrn.com/abstract=1525920. Comments welcome.
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