Christian Accounts of Religious Liberty: Two Views of Conscience

28 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2020

See all articles by Joel Harrison

Joel Harrison

Sydney Law School, University of Sydney

Date Written: September 3, 2020


This article examines two views of conscience found with Christian religious liberty discourse. First, the inter-subjective view of conscience. This contains two claims: (a) conscience should not be coerced because of the end to which religion or conscience is directed - the free offering of the person to God; and (b) conscience ultimately serves (and its exercise is judged by its consistency with) a social end. Second, the ethical freedom view of conscience. This also holds that conscience should not be coerced, but frames that requirement as part of facilitating the individual's capacity to determine his or her own ends. The article considers how each of these views of conscience responds to pluralism or religious difference, how each understands the ends of political community, and how each characterises the role of political authority.

Keywords: conscience, Christian, Dignitatis Humanae, Robert Louis Wilken, Aquinas, Augustine, pluralism, John Rawls, Kathleen Brady, James Madison

Suggested Citation

Harrison, Joel, Christian Accounts of Religious Liberty: Two Views of Conscience (September 3, 2020). Brigham Young University Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Joel Harrison (Contact Author)

Sydney Law School, University of Sydney ( email )

Faculty of Law Building, F10
Sydney, NSW

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