The Problem and the Promise of Religious Liberty
Forthcoming, Paul Babie, Neville Rochow, and Brett Scharffs (eds), Freedom of Religion or Belief: Creating the Constitutional Space for Other Fundamental Freedoms (Edward Elgar)
25 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2018
Date Written: September 5, 2018
This chapter examines a problem and a promise for religious liberty discourse. The problem lies in challenges to the claim that religious liberty should be afforded special concern. The chapter argues that this problem is rooted in a liberal political imaginary: a vision of the relationship between civil authority, individuals, and groups, in which the task of such authority is to secure personal autonomy. Such an imaginary particularly impacts on the liberty of association. In contrast, the chapter points to a more promising vision of religious liberty: a theopolitical imaginary. Here, religious liberty concerns a particular religious end: the free creation of communities of solidarity, fraternity and charity seeking the truth about God. Civil authority is understood as coordinating and encouraging such communities in a shared quest. The chapter then discusses how this vision, although rooted in Christian tradition, offers greater space for plural faiths and associations than the liberal tradition.
Keywords: religion, liberty, liberal, theopolitical, civil society
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