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Religious Freedom in the Liberal State$
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Rex Ahdar and Ian Leigh

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199253623

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253623.001.0001

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Religious Group Autonomy

Religious Group Autonomy

(p.325) 11 Religious Group Autonomy
Religious Freedom in the Liberal State



Oxford University Press

This chapter examines religious group autonomy which comprises the right of religious communities to determine and administer their own internal religious affairs without interference from the state. The importance of religious group autonomy (or church autonomy, to use the traditional label) to any overall scheme of religious liberty has rightly been described as ‘critical’ and ‘exceptionally high’. This chapter begins with a brief survey of the law’s recognition of religious group autonomy and religious freedom, then contrasts a liberal understanding of religious autonomy with that of the religious communities themselves. Three illustrative matters of concern in this area are considered: the right of religious groups to select their own religious leaders and ministers, the right of groups to assemble for worship in buildings and locations of their choosing, and the right of religious communities to determine for themselves who they will marry within the rites of their communities.

Keywords:   religious group autonomy, religious freedom, places of worship, marriage, religious liberty, religious communities, law, religious leaders

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