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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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Legal Protection of Religious Freedom

Legal Protection of Religious Freedom

(p.98) 4 Legal Protection of Religious Freedom
Religious Freedom in the Liberal State



Oxford University Press

In liberal democracies, one is unlikely to hear a principled case for religious intolerance, disabilities, and persecution. However, state and societal practices in many contemporary Islamic states are a reminder that religious liberty in the most fundamental sense cannot be taken for granted as the birthright of modern societies — even those which have entered international legal commitments affirming freedom of religion. This chapter first considers the broad nature of religious freedom and briefly outlines the various constitutional laws that confer protection for religious liberty in different nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as the guarantees in international law for religious rights. The chapter concludes by exploring the difficult question of how ‘religion’ is defined based on three approaches: the subjective-functional approach, the substantive-content approach, and the Strasbourg approach.

Keywords:   religious freedom, constitutional protection, international law, religion, religious rights, religious liberty, subjective-functional approach, substantive-content approach, Strasbourg approach

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