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Freedom of Religion or Belief - An International Law Commentary by Bielefeldt, Heiner; Ghanea, Nazila; Wiener, Michael (21st January 2016)

The Underlying Principles of Freedom of Religion or Belief—Towards a Holistic Conceptualization

From: Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary

Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

Subject(s):
Religion — Freedom of association — Freedom of expression — Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion — Human rights remedies

This chapter discusses the underlying principles of freedom of religion or belief. While having its specific features as well as specific areas of application, the right to freedom of religion or belief epitomizes the very same principles which define the human rights approach in general: respect for human dignity, normative universalism, freedom, and equality. Highlighting these principles, which freedom of religion or belief shares with other human rights, is important against the background of a growing perception (or rather: misperception) that freedom of religion or belief allegedly stands in an uneasy relationship to other human rights, in particular freedom of expression or claims of gender emancipation. This chapter presents systematic arguments which underline a holistic understanding of freedom of religion or belief as an indispensable part of human rights in general. In order for the State to fulfil its task as formal guarantor of everyone’s right to freedom of religion or belief without discrimination, an inclusive secular constitution may provide the most suitable conditions.

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