How far should religious practices be curtailed in pursuit of other social goals, such as equality and the removal of discrimination? This book reasons that religious freedom is one of our most precious freedoms, and essential to democracy, drawing on examples from across the Western world.
Is religious freedom being curtailed in pursuit of equality, and the outlawing of discrimination? Is enough effort made to accommodate those motivated by a religious conscience? All rights matter but at times the right to put religious beliefs into practice increasingly takes second place in the law of different countries to the pursuit of other social priorities. The right to freedom of belief and to manifest belief is written into all human rights charters. In the United States religious freedom is sometimes seen as 'the first freedom'. Yet increasingly in many jurisdictions in Europe and North America, religious freedom can all too easily be 'trumped' by other rights. Roger Trigg
looks at the assumptions that lie behind the subordination of religious liberty to other social concerns, especially the pursuit of equality. He gives examples from different Western countries of a steady erosion of freedom of religion. The protection of freedom of worship is often seen as sufficient, and religious practices are separated from the beliefs which inspire them.
So far from religion in general, and Christianity in particular, providing a foundation for our beliefs in human dignity and human rights, religion is all too often seen as threat and a source of conflict, to be controlled at all costs. The challenge is whether any freedom can preserved for long, if the basic human right to freedom of religious belief and practice is dismissed as of little account, with no attempt to provide any reasonable accommodation. Given the central role of religion in human life, unnecessary limitations on its expression are attacks on human freedom itself.
is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick. His publications include “Rationality and Religion” (Blackwell, 1998), “Rationality and Science” (Blackwell, 1993) and “Understanding Social Science” (Blackwell, 1985). He was the first President (1993-6) of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and in 1996-7 was Stanton Lecturer in the Philosophy of Religion at the University of Cambridge. He is currently President of the Mind Association.