Unexamined Faiths and the Public Place of Religion: Emerging Insights from the Law

19 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2011  

Iain T. Benson

University of Notre Dame Australia; University of the Free State - Faculty of Law, Department of Public Law

Date Written: April 1, 2011

Abstract

The article examines certain key terms, such as “beliefs” and “faith” and how these are understood in relation to the public sphere. It examines some writings of recent popularist authors such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and is critical of the authors’ claims that they do not have faith or beliefs. Drawing on legal decisions in Canada and South Africa the article suggests that this sort of terminological looseness has legal and political implications when it comes to whether or not beliefs of all sorts (religious and non-religious) are treated fairly in the public sphere.

Arguing for a more diverse public sphere, the article cautions that law should give greater attention to principles of modus vivendi rather than “convergence” in which the attempt is to eradicate legally allowable positions from the public sphere and place those who hold them, and their communities, at a disadvantage. The law must not, by inflating its own role, put added pressures on the liberty that accommodation and subsidiarity require.

Keywords: faith, belief, secular, law, religion, public, society

JEL Classification: Z12, K39

Suggested Citation

Benson, Iain T., Unexamined Faiths and the Public Place of Religion: Emerging Insights from the Law (April 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1814275 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1814275

Iain Tyrrell Benson (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame Australia ( email )

29 Shepard Street
Chippendale, Sydney 2008
Australia

University of the Free State - Faculty of Law, Department of Public Law ( email )

Bloemfontein
South Africa

Paper statistics

Downloads
47
Abstract Views
415