'A La Carte' Spirituality and the Future of Freedom of Religion

Jeremy Patrick, ‘A la carte spirituality and the future of freedom of religion’ in Paul T Babie, Neville G. Rochow, and Brett G. Scharffs (eds.), Freedom of Religion or Belief: Creating the Constitutional Space for Fundamental Freedoms (Elgar, 2020) 58-91.

40 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2018 Last revised: 5 Jun 2020

See all articles by Jeremy Patrick

Jeremy Patrick

University of Southern Queensland School of Law

Date Written: January 31, 2018

Abstract

Although institutional religion continues on, there has been a dramatic increase in the past twenty years in those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious”. The common trait among so-called “SBNRs” is that they take an individualistic approach to religion: picking and choosing particular beliefs from a wide variety of religious traditions and then adding in, on an a la carte basis, notions from what may be derided by many as folklore, pseudoscience, the New Age smorgasbord, or personal intuition. The rise of this “new spirituality” presents challenges for the traditional application of religious freedom principles in liberal democracies which were developed in the context of institutional, hierarchical, and formalized religious affiliations. This paper examples doctrinal freedom of religion principles in Australia, Canada, and the United States and discusses how “freedom of religion” must evolve to protect spiritual beliefs that are personal and idiosyncratic.

Keywords: SBNR, Nones, Freedom of Religion, Spirituality, Religious Freedom

JEL Classification: K1

Suggested Citation

Patrick, Jeremy J., 'A La Carte' Spirituality and the Future of Freedom of Religion (January 31, 2018). Jeremy Patrick, ‘A la carte spirituality and the future of freedom of religion’ in Paul T Babie, Neville G. Rochow, and Brett G. Scharffs (eds.), Freedom of Religion or Belief: Creating the Constitutional Space for Fundamental Freedoms (Elgar, 2020) 58-91., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3115897 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3115897

Jeremy J. Patrick (Contact Author)

University of Southern Queensland School of Law ( email )

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Toowoomba, QLD 4350
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