Religious Liberty

By Dr James Orr

We are, nowadays, predisposed to think that the language of rights and equality is synonymous with the language of justice and goodness. We who believe in a free and plural society used to think that rights were meant to protect difference and ensure equity between those of different dispositions, faiths and creeds. But a curious inversion seems to have taken place, where once rights used to defend difference and were deployed to ensure society’s plurality and diversity, now rights are utilised to erode difference and enforce a uniform and unwelcome conformity on society in general, and on religious minorities in particular. Since we live under a liberal understanding of rights, it is almost as if liberalism has moved from a modus vivendi approach in which a reasonable accommodation is made between conflicting parties to allow them all to live in peace, to a ‘be like me’ liberalism that insists that all share its world view or suffer the consequences.

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