by Greg Mayer
Kenan Malik has an article in New Humanist magazine (online here) on religious freedom that is very interesting. While applauding John Locke’s views on religious toleration, he espouses a more Spinozan approach, which places religious freedom as merely one of a set of freedoms centered on freedom of expression and conscience, and finds Baruch Spinoza’s views more influential on the U.S. First Amendment religious freedom guarantees. He enunciates a series of principles, and then applies them to a number of controversies. Is there anything wrong with offending religious sensibilities? No. Should burqas be banned? No (except in very limited practical circumstances). His most basic principle:
Whatever one’s beliefs, secular or religious, there should be complete freedom to express them, short of inciting violence or other forms of physical harm to others. Whatever one’s beliefs, secular or religious, there should be freedom to assemble to promote them. And whatever one’s beliefs, secular or religious, there should be freedom to act upon those beliefs, so long as in so doing one neither physically harms another individual without their consent nor transgresses that individual’s rights in the public sphere. These should be the fundamental principles by which we judge the permissibility of any belief or act, whether religious or secular.
h/t: Matthew Sitman at Andrew Sullivan