Freedom of conscience, religion, or belief as a fundamental human right

Johannes Morsink has made clear in his definitive book, Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Origins, Drafting, and Intent’ that human rights can only be understood against the background of fascist belief and practice. Human rights were explicitly designed as a set of legally enforceable rights and protections capable of preventing the exercise of arbitrary force, associated with Hitler and his fascist allies. Arbitrary force (at a minimum) means the power to inflict death, impairment, severe pain or suffering, or material destruction for self-serving purposes. Judith Skhlar, in her famous essay, ‘The Liberalism of Fear’, has called the capacity to perpetrate ‘arbitrary, unexpected, unnecessary, and unlicensed acts of force ... in any regime’ a summum malum, ‘which all of us know and would avoid if only we could’. As Morsink shows indisputably, it is that moral understanding that underlies human rights language and law, leaving no doubt as to what the drafters of the Universal Declaration (UDHR) had in mind when they stated in the Preamble: ‘Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.’

We should recall that Hitler rose to power on the strength of Article 48 - the emergency article - of the Weimar Constitution, effectively replacing it with the ‘Fuehrer Principle’. That resulted in the suspension of civil rights with almost no

limit, including extensive censorship, widespread searches and seizures, secret and unlimited detentions, the establishment of irregular tribunals to prosecute individuals suspected of threatening national security - in effect, authorizing Hitler to use police power, according to his whim or pleasure, to intimidate and suppress all opposition.

Indeed, it may be said that the whole human rights corpus was a response to a massive abuse by Hitler and other fascists of an appeal to public emergency. Think, for example, of Article 4 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which imposes a set of nonderogable rights (rights that may not be suspended under any conditions). That set of rights prohibits, even during times of emergency, discrimination, extrajudicial killing, torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, enslavement, denials of due process and [please note] the freedom of conscience, religion, or belief. Those rights were all systematically and egregiously violated by the Hitler regime prior to and during World War II.

It is of the greatest importance that Article 18 (of the UDHRand ICCPR) - the right to freedom of conscience, religion, or belief - is included among the nonderogable rights. A key feature of arbitrary force as practiced by the Hitler regime was the relentless imposition by force of a specific set of beliefs on everyone under its control, meaning the persecution of all religious and other expressions of dissent. Such actions were arbitrary because coercion is not a justification for believing the truth or rightness of anything. Since conscience, religion, or belief involve, at bottom, basic convictions about truth and rightness, they are subject, in traditional language, to the ‘law of the spirit’ - persuasive appeals to reason, emotion, and evidence—and not to the ‘law of the sword’. In short, coercing belief is one critical aspect of Shklar’s summum malum.

The implications are telling. It is true, for example, that Article 18 of the UDHR and the ICCPR guarantees individual freedom of choice in regard to matters of conscience, religion, or belief, something taken by critics to limit its application to a very’ narrow range of beliefs. However, given the fascist background, the focus is on the right of the individual to choose to follow conscience rather than yield to a set of beliefs defined and coercively imposed by the government. The important thing is not so much the content of the fundamental convictions held dear; it is rather the opportunity’ for anyone, standing alone or in community, to resist being told what to hold dear. A broad range of both religious and nonreligious beliefs and practices is protected, and may only be limited, as human rights jurisprudence makes clear, by a compelling state interest - public order, safety, health, or morals - enforced in the least burdensome way.


International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Art. 18, para. 3. See UN Human Rights Committee General Comment No. 22 (Art. 18), in Tad Stahnke and Paul Martin, eds, Religion and Human Rights: Basic Documents (Center for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University 1998), para. 8, 93-94.

Thus, the judgment of the Human Rights Committee, mandated to interpret and administer the ICCPR, is thoroughly consistent with this implication. Article 18, it says, ‘is not limited to traditional religions or to religions or beliefs with institutional characteristics’. It rules out ‘any tendency to discriminate against any religion or belief for any reasons, including the fact that they are newly established or represent religious minorities’. Also protected, the Committee goes on, is the right to manifest religion or belief in ‘observance and practice’, which ‘may include not only ceremonial acts, but also such customs as the observance of dietary regulations, the wearing of distinctive clothing or head coverings, participation in rituals associated with certain stages of life’.[1]

I myself am convinced that arbitrary force, including coerced belief, as practiced by mid-twentieth-century fascists, and to a greater or lesser degree by all authoritarians, is a summum malum ‘in any regime’, as Shklar says. Her claim is clearly universal in intent, and it implies a compelling way of justifying the freedom of conscience, religion, or belief as a fundamental right. That guarantees the right to be free from coerced bclief/or everyone, everywhere, along, of course, with human rights protections against other forms of arbitrary treatment. As a moral matter, I do not see how it is possible to doubt such a conclusion.

Winnifired Sullivan and the Impossibility Thesis

Sullivan is a legally trained, religious studies scholar, and the Impossibility Thesis she develops continues to be very influential, as is evident from references to it in the essays and editorial comments contained in the Polities of Religious Freedom, and from the commendation The Impossibility of Religious Freedom has received from distinguished scholars like Philip Hamburger and Talal Assad.

It should be mentioned, at the outset, that there is an underlying ambiguity about what Sullivan and her colleagues mean by the Impossibility Thesis. The last sentence of Sullivan’s book states that a right to religious freedom ‘may not best be realized through laws guaranteeing religious freedom but by laws guaranteeing equality,’ which suggests that a right to religious freedom is, after all, ‘possible,’ if only it were implemented differently.

Similarly, the four editors write in their Introduction to Politics of Religious Freedom that ‘our project does not take a position for or against religious freedom’. Does that mean, as it seems, that there is such a thing as religious freedom, but for some undisclosed reason the editors do not want to talk about it? Why is that? But, more importantly, doesn’t such a statement imply that religious freedom in some undefined form is not ‘impossible’ after all? The ambiguity here needs to be cleared up. Something is either impossible or it is not.

In addition to this underlying ambiguity, Sullivan’s central argument rests on a serious inconsistency. She considers existing legal protection of religious freedom in the United States to be deficient in two ways: It discriminates against those who ‘do not self-identify as religious’[2] and ‘religion’ ‘can no longer be coherently defined for purposes of American law’. Consequently, she thinks, as I just mentioned, that religious freedom is ‘not best realized through laws guaranteeing religious freedom, but through laws guaranteeing equality’, presumably like freedom of speech or assembly.

However, in the course of making her case, Sullivan flatly contradicts herself by offering a definition of religion that is remarkably consonant with a reasonable interpretation of Article 18, and with a plausible understanding of current American jurisprudence. ‘To be religious,’ she says, ‘is in some sense to be obedient to a rule outside oneself and one’s government, whether the rule is established by God or otherwise. It is to do what must be done ... and doing so at some personal cost.’ ‘To be religious is not to be free, but to be faithful.’ A few pages earlier, she also says: ‘religion is ... arguably different from speech, movement, association, and the like’ - legal rights presumably guaranteeing equality. It implies in a special way, she suggests, ‘the right of the individual, every individual, to life outside the state—the right to live as a self on which many given, as well as chosen, demands are made’.

There are four important implications:

1. Inclusiveness. Sullivan’s statement that to be religious is to be obedient to a rule, ‘whether established by God or otherwise' (italics added), matches exactly the meaning of the phrase ‘religion or belief1 in Article 18, referring to fundamental convictions that are nonreligious as well as religious.

Incidentally, I think the evidence and argument extensively presented in Sullivan’s book concerning a case that involves complaints on religious freedom grounds against an ordinance in Boca Raton, Florida prohibiting all but flat gravestones in a public cemetery, speak for a ruling in the plaintiffs’ favor. Although not religious in any conventional sense, the plaintiffs held beliefs sufficiently conscientious or ‘religious-like’ as to have been granted an exemption from the law. In fact, Sullivan herself criticizes the narrow definition of religion the judge employed to deny the complaints, but she does not, in my view, cany the criticism to its logical conclusion.

  • 2. Individualism. Sullivan, along with her Immanent Frame colleagues, makes a great deal of what they call, the ‘Protestantized’, ‘hyperindividualistic’ notion of belief and conscience that is alleged to characterize the meaning of Article 18, thus ruling out the article’s protection of a much wider range of ‘religions or beliefs’. Given that recurring refrain, Sullivan’s formulation, cited above, is itself surprisingly individualistic. However, if we see Article 18 against the background of the fascist experience, as I suggested earlier, then the focus of individual protection is not on the substance of belief, but on the freedom of ever}' individual, standing alone or in community, from being coerced regarding what to hold dear. That is exactly the sentiment expressed by Sullivan when she extols ‘the right of the individual, every individual, to life outside the state’. She is pointing, albeit inadvertently, to a universal predicament presupposed by American law and by human rights language: conscience vs. state, a predicament made especially vivid by the fascist experience.
  • 3. The limits of freedom of choice. Related to the criticism registered by the Immanent Frame group that a concept of Protestantized, hyperindividualistic belief necessarily colors and distorts the understanding of Article 18 is, to be specific, a complaint about the phrase in the Article, ‘the right shall include freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of [one’s] choice ...' (italics added). The objection is that only those beliefs are protected that presuppose a rational-choice, sovereign-consumer model of the way religion and conscience work. People choose basic convictions as they choose items in a grocer)' store. To combat that understanding is the point of Sullivan’s words about the real meaning of being religious, which is, she says, ‘not to be free, but to be faithful,’ ‘to do what must be done ... and doing so at some personal cost’, or ‘to live as a self on which many given, as well as chosen, demands are made’. A religious disposition, a conviction of conscience, rightly and truly understood, according to Sullivan, is finally not chosen but given, not discretionary but demanding, often imposing costly sacrifice.

Sullivan is surely right about this as far as many people around the world are concerned; ironically, her understanding certainly fits well the Protestant tradition she and her colleagues often complain about. Think, for example, of the intense resistance over the years of many Calvinists to an idea of freedom of the will as regards salvation. Talk about, ‘not chosen, but given’!

But the point is that such an understanding is in no way ruled out by Article 18. The article is not aimed at the way basic beliefs or convictions of conscience are acquired, nor at what the specific content of those beliefs might be; those are deep theological and philosophical matters that are by no means at issue here. What is at issue is freedom of choice vis-à-vis the state. The individual, standing alone or in community, is free to choose to follow fundamental conviction as the individual sees fit, and, whatever the nature and content of that belief, to do that, within certain limits, without ‘molestation’ by the government (or anyone else), in the antique words of an earlier age. That is the exact extent of the meaning of ‘freedom of choice’ in Article 18.

There is, therefore, no reason to hold that only a certain narrow range of belief is protected under Article 18 - such as beliefs, for example, that are highly rational with the accent on doctrine, creed, and principle rather than on devotion to sacred land,[3] or on ceremony or sacred rituals of everyday life or on dietar}' regulations and patterns of dress. As we saw earlier, a wide range of ‘manifestations of belief,’ along with an expansive understanding of ‘religions or beliefs,’ is fully protected under Article 18.

4. ‘Suitable Evidential Standards’ for conscience, religion, or belief. The phrase, borrowed from Brian Leiter’s book Why Tolerate Religion?* correctly implies that the only way to administer provisions protecting religious freedom consistently and fairly is to provide evidential standards for identifying conscience, religion, or belief that are as clear as possible. Since Leiter’s book portrays religion, for the most part, in thoroughly negative terms, it is ironic that he singles out religion as providing after all the best point of reference for determining those standards.

In that way, Leiter is like Winnifred Sullivan. Recall her words: ‘To be religious is ... to be obedient to a rule outside oneself and one’s government’ ‘whether the rule is established by God or otherwise’; it is ‘to do what must be done ... at some personal cost’; it is ‘not to be free, it is to be faithful’; protecting religion is different from protecting ‘speech, movement, association, and the like’; it implies ‘the right of the individual, every individual, to life outside the state—the right to live as a self on which many given, as well as chosen, demands are made.’

Such statements provide strong support as to why the right to freedom of conscience, religion, or belief is expressed in the inclusive way it is, and why, against the background of the fascist experience, it was singled out for inclusion among the nonderogable rights in the ICCPR. Implied are the following four evidential standards, which, I propose, constitute a practicable way to identify conscience, religion, or belief, as understood in Article 18.

The Fundamental Convictions in question must be:

  • 1. Of compelling importance in the sense of entailing ‘obedience’ and ‘faithfulness’, meaning personal, heartfelt commitment to their being expressions of what is ultimately true and right. The range of protected belief is expansive, covering religious and nonreligious convictions focused on doctrine and principle, as well as on other very different convictions such as devotion to sacred land, along with ‘manifestations of belief in the form of cherished rituals and solemn customs and practices. Such beliefs and practices may be limited by a compelling state interest - public order, safety, health, or morals - enforced in the least burdensome way.
  • 2. Part of a comprehensive web of belief. To be considered ‘of compelling importance’ presupposes a system of belief in relation to which fundamental convictions are so considered.
  • 3. Costly in the sense of entailing sacrifices, consistently acted upon where required.
  • 4. Conceived of as outside of and superior to the authority of the state and its power to use coercion in enforcing law.

Some challenges

On reflection, these four evidential standards, sufficient, we claim, for identifying which Fundamental Convictions associated with ‘conscience, religion, or belief (under Article 18) are to be protected and accommodated, hold up well against challenges presented in an article by Cecile Laborde entitled, ‘Protecting Religious Freedom in a Secular Age’, included in The Politics of Religious Freedom.10 The challenges come from a book by Charles Taylor and Jocelyn Maclure, Secularism and Freedom of Conscience1' taken up in the essay, and from the author herself.

According to Laborde, Taylor and Maclure attempt to reinterpret the idea of religious freedom in a ‘secular age’ where religion has lost its special status and is forced to compete with numerous nonreligious and anti-religious worldviews. It is above all an age defined by ‘an irreducible pluralism of beliefs, values, and commitments’.[4] Under such conditions, protecting religious beliefs alone is unfair. On the other hand, if religious belief no longer provides unique evidential standards for special exemptions from generally applicable laws, what does? Their answer, on Laborde’s account, is ‘effectively [to] collapse religion into conscience and implicitly assume that the latter category’ is more inclusive than the former’.

Taylor and Maclure contend that ‘religious belief, for purposes of legal exemptions, should only be seen as a subset of a broader category' of beliefs that deserve protection: ‘moral beliefs which structure moral identity’ - what they

call ‘meaning-giving beliefs and commitments’[5] that include a wide range of nonreligious beliefs and practices, like secular pacifism, ecocentric vegetarianism, and duties of care to terminally ill loved ones. Such convictions ‘allow individuals to act with integrity—where integrity is defined as congruence between one’s perceptions of one’s duties and one’s actual actions’. Moreover, Taylor and Maclure:

defend what they call a subjective conception of freedom of religion, according to which only individuals—not the state, nor religious authorities—are in a position to explain which particular beliefs and commitments are key to their sense of moral integrity. Judges have only to assess whether such claims are made with sincerity (so as to rule out, when possible, fraudulent or pre-textual claims). Yet ultimately the subjective conception of freedom points to the sovereignty of private, strong evaluations.

They accept certain evidential standards as being common to religious and nonreligious beliefs, in particular that the beliefs in question are regarded as strongly categorical in character; they constitute ‘core values’ that ‘become paramount’ and are ‘particularly weighty’ and give ‘meaning and shape to one’s life’. Taylor and Maclure admit that values like:

political ideals, professional fulfillment, and artistic creativity are meaninggiving and integrity-constituting. Yet [these values] generally do not generate claims of special accommodation because they are linked to flexible and fluid, not overriding and stringent, obligations.

Apparently in sympathy, I .aborde comments that: ‘the strong interpretation of freedom of conscience, then, allows Taylor and Maclure to sketch a manageable theory of accommodations in which only beliefs with a certain degree of categoricity—conscientious beliefs—are accommodated.’

So far, Taylor and Maclure’s characterization of which convictions are to be protected and accommodated matches well our list of evidential standards described above. The reference to ‘paramountcy’, ‘weightiness’, ‘categoricity’, and ‘meaning-giving’, as well as to the inclusion of religious and nonreligious moral convictions, replicates our emphasis in Standard 1 on ‘compelling importance’ and on ‘religious and nonreligious convictions’ that exhibit ‘personal and heartfelt [subjective] commitment to their being expressions of what is ultimately

true and right’. In addition, the allusion to ‘the sovereignty of private, strong commitments’ in regard to which ‘only individuals—not the state, nor religious authorities—are in a position to explain which particular beliefs and commitments are key to their sense of moral integrity’ matches our Standard 4: ‘conceived of as outside of and superior to the authority of the state and its power to use coercion in enforcing law.’

However, there are certain features of Taylor and Maclure’s description of convictions to be protected and accommodated that are at odds with Standards 2 and 3 of our list. They claim, according to Laborde, that in a secular age ‘people’s ethical commitments take the form of “fluid, eclectic[6] set(s) of values” that are not integrated into a comprehensive whole and are not perceived as “unconditional rules for action”.’

But this claim seems to be a mistake, and, in fact, to be inconsistent with other things they say. Our Standard 2 holds that ‘to be considered “of compelling importance” presupposes a system of belief in relation to which fundamental convictions are so considered.’ That is, a conviction is ‘compelling’ or ‘paramount’ or ‘weighty’ in respect to its central role in the organization and direction of a whole way of life. To be a conscientious secular pacifist or ecocentric vegetarian has strict consequences for how life is lived - how time is spent, what political positions are taken, how children are raised, and, in the case of the vegetarian, what is eaten, how to behave at dinner parties, what groceries are bought, etc. As Taylor and Maclure themselves say, the relevant ‘core values’ ‘give meaning and shape to one’s life’. A critical test of paramountcy or weightiness is the extensity and consistency with which an avowed core value is lived out. Having the courage of one’s convictions in all aspects of life would also appear to be the basic meaning of ‘integrity’, a term of great importance to Taylor and Maclure, and also to Laborde.

If convictions are fluid in the sense of being weighty now and then or oft' and on, that is prima facie a good reason to doubt the sincerity with which the conviction is held. Indeed, Taylor and Maclure themselves tell the difference between core values and other values by whether, in their language, the values are ‘fluid and flexible’ rather than ‘overriding and stringent’. Certainly, core values may change, but if they do the burden is on the person under consideration to give convincing proof that the new values are now overriding and stringent, and not fluid and flexible, and, thus, that the person may be said to be acting with

integrity. It appears to follow that fundamental convictions are only intelligible as part of‘a comprehensive web of belief, in the terms of Standard 2.

Our Standard 3 states that Fundamental Convictions must be ‘costly in the sense of entailing sacrifices, consistently acted upon where required’. Taylor and Maclure’s comment that core values, understood in their sense, are not perceived as ‘unconditional rules for action’ would appear to conflict with that prescription. But given what they say elsewhere, especially about categoricity and overridingness and stringency as key indications of core values, that statement also seems to be mistaken and inconsistent. The difference between unconditional and categorical is not clear, nor is the difference clear between unconditional and overriding and stringent.

Moreover, Taylor and Maclure’s remark that to act with integrity in their sense is to live out the ‘congruence between one’s perception of one’s duties and one’s actual actions’ is close to our formulation of Standard 3, particularly if we remind ourselves that categorical duties could turn out to be very ‘costly’ indeed when they come into conflict with public laws and policies.

With appropriate amendments, then, we have, I submit, brought Taylor and Maclure’s proposals in line with our own. That leaves two further challenges addressed by Laborde to Taylor and Maclure, and, by implication, to our proposed set of standards.

Laborde’s first challenge is the easiest to deal with. It is the familiar criticism, found as we saw in Sullivan and Hurd, and in many of the authors included in The Politics of Religious Freedom, that tying a discussion of religious freedom to freedom of conscience, and, consequently, to categorical, weighty, or paramount beliefs is to exclude the whole range of performative religious experience - experience ‘about exhibiting the virtues of the good believer, living in community with others, and shaping one’s daily life in accordance with the rituals of faith’.[7] The complaint is, at bottom, that such biasing mistakenly privileges a Protestantized understanding of religion and conscience that gives priority to highly rationalized forms of belief and ignores ritual, ceremony, and ‘lived religion’ in adjudicating which actions ought to be protected and accommodated.

However, our Standard 1, allowing as it does for a wide range of protected beliefs and practices authorized by Article 18 jurisprudence, readily refutes that criticism. If it is true that because of its history, the word ‘conscience’ distorts things by narrowing the range of protected beliefs and practices, there are always the other two key words in Article 18, ‘religion’ and ‘belief to fall back on. The important thing is that all three terms are properly understood in relation to the four standards in our proposal. There is no reason why a conviction favoring the sacred character of a piece of land or the performance of a solemn ceremony or ritual, or the wearing of certain clothing might not be protected and accommodated so long as the four evidential standards are met. In fact, it is easy to see just

Freedom of religion 35 how quickly such performances are raised to consciousness as ‘weighty’, ‘paramount’, or ‘categorical’ once they are threatened with suppression by a hostile government. That is the very state of affairs, we argued, that gave rise to human rights language in the first place.

The second challenge concerns what Laborde calls the ‘subjective theory of freedom’ endorsed by Taylor and Maclure, something, she says, that is ‘plagued by tensions and difficulties’.[8] One of the difficulties - that such a theory leads to a preference for rationalistic hyper-individualism and therefore indifference to performative, collective forms of religious experience - has already been addressed.

The other difficulty is that by placing such strong emphasis on the subjective authority of conscience, Taylor and Maclure have no way of limiting freedom of conscience from ‘permitjting] individuals to do bad or unjust things’. If sincerity of commitment to weighty core values, determined by consistent willingness to bear the cost in practice, is the only relevant standard, then there is no theoretical barrier to having an unlimited right to do wrong.

However, again, our Standard 1 clearly places restrictions on such a suggestion, indicating that Fundamental Convictions (to be protected and accommodated) ‘may be limited by a compelling state interest - public order, safety, health, or morals - enforced in the least burdensome way’. The whole point of our discussion of the fascist background out of which human rights language, including the meaning of public order, safety, health, or morals, emerged was the ‘categorical’ imperative to limit arbitrary force in respect to the infliction of injury, explicitly formulated in response to the violations committed by the fascists before and during World War II. While, under a human rights understanding, there is undoubtedly a sphere of discretion and negotiation as to what are considered ‘bad and unjust things’, that sphere is sharply limited.


In reviewing Sullivan’s Impossibility Thesis, or a similar position advocated by her colleague, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, in Beyond Religious Freedom™ we may conclude two things.

So far as they concern particular rulings, the criticisms in question are frequently correct. They do call attention to unfair or biased judgments on the part of political or legal officials. That is true whether they concern disputes over gravestones in Boca Raton, Florida, as discussed by Sullivan, or disputes over indigenous land rights in northwest Guatemala, as discussed by Hurd. To that extent, their assessments are illuminating and valuable.

They go wrong, however, in assuming that the mistaken rulings were inevitable and unavoidable because, according to them, the standards themselves are somehow ‘poisoned at the root’, to borrow a phrase from Christian Human Rights, a recent book by Samuel Moyn.

This conviction is distorted, in my opinion, by a failure to look more carefully at human rights language and jurisprudence, and to do that, in particular, against the background of the fascist experience. When that is done, and when the arguments are examined carefully in the light of that experience, it is possible to develop a set of workable evidential standards for identifying which Fundamental Convictions are properly protected and accommodated. Rightly interpreted, these standards permit of very different judgments, judgments much fairer and more open minded, than the judgments they criticize. Far from being ‘impossible’ to apply, the standards are capable of ensuring in a compelling way the right to freedom of conscience, religion, or belief as a fundamental right.

Similarly, having examined Cecile Laborde’s implicit challenges to our proposed standards, we may also conclude that the standards hold up well.


Samuel Moyn, Christian Human Rights (University of Pennsylvania Press 2015), 139.

3 The politics of sovereignty

  • [1] Stahnke and Martin, para. 2 at 92. 2 Sullivan at 159. 3 Sullivan et al. at 2.
  • [2] Sullivan at 8. 2 Sullivan at 150. 3 Sullivan at 156. 4 Sullivan at 154. 5 Sullivan at 159.
  • [3] In Lyng I». Nw. Indian Cemetery Prot. Ass’n, 485 U.S. 439, 459-461 (1988), Justice William J. Brennan in a dissenting opinion interpreted religious belief in a broadly inclusive way fully consistent, it would seem, with Article 18: ‘In marked contrast to traditional Western religions, the belief systems of Native Americans do not rely on doctrines, creeds, or dogmas. Established universal truths—the mainstay of Western religions play no part in Indian faith. Ceremonies are communal efforts undertaken for specific purposes in accordance with instructions handed down from generation to generation ... Where dogma lies at the heart of Wester religions, Native American faith is inextricably bound to the use of land.’ 2 Brian Leiter, Why Tolerate Religion? (Princeton University Press 2013), 99. 3 Leiter’s definition of a claim of conscience, which he agrees should be protected, ‘is a kind of moral imperative central to one’s integrity' as a person, to the meaning of one’s life’ (5).
  • [4] Laborde at 269. 2 Charles Taylor and Jocelyn Maclure, Secularism and Freedom of Conscience, Jane Marie Todd, trans. (Harvard University’ Press 2011). 3 Laborde at 269. 4 Laborde at 274.
  • [5] Labórele at 271. 2 Labórele at 272 3 Labórele at 274. 4 Labórele at 272 5 Labórele at 275. 6 Labórele at 275.
  • [6] I spend my time in what follows criticizing the idea that ‘fluid’ values can be core values, but a comment on whether they may be ‘eclectic’ is also in order. ‘Eclectic’ usually means ‘drawing together a point of view from diverse sources.’ So understood, there is no reason a person might not work out a way of lite (‘a comprehensive whole’) based on a blending of the teachings of diverse traditions (e.g., Christianity and Buddhism or Judaism and Islam). 2 Laborde at 272. 3 In papers delivered by her at two conferences at which I have been present. 4 Laborde at 275.
  • [7] Laborde at 274. 2 Laborde at 275, 278.
  • [8] Laborde at 274 2 Laborde at 277. 3 Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Beyond Religious Freedom: The New Global Politics of Religion (Princeton University Press 2015).
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