Challenges Presented to Law and Public Norms by Claims of Freedom of Religion Arising in Increasingly Diverse Societies
11 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2011
Date Written: may 23, 2011
Because religion is a potent force for many people, it affects the content, structure, and function of law and the law's relationship to ordering society. The complexity and variability from state to state of the relationships of religion to social, governmental, and legal systems is remarkable. This variability and complexity stems from several major influences including in particular: (1) the diversity of religions and of people's understanding of and use of those religions; and (2) the mix of religions within a particular state. As predominantly secular countries become more ethnically and religiously diverse, particularly through immigration from regions religiously different from the host country (e.g., the Muslim emigration into Christian Europe), more free exercise and accommodationist demands are being made by those whose religions are not merely a variant of the dominant religion. These demands bring new challenges and require sensitive balancing of conflicting fundamental rights and liberties. This essay examines three books addressing these topics from various perspectives and uses them as a vehicle for some commentary on the nature of the problems encountered.
Keywords: religion, law and religion, international human rights, diversity, tolerance
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