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

Part 1 Freedom of Religion or Belief, 1.3.1 Freedom to Worship

Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

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

Prof Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

Religion — Freedom of association — Freedom of expression — Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion

This chapter addresses issues concerning the individual freedom to worship. Given the crucial significance of worship for the understanding and practice of religion, the texts of some national constitutions reduce the right to freedom of religion or belief to the element of worship by replacing it with the term ‘freedom to worship’. However, this narrow or even exclusive emphasis on worship can become an excuse for marginalizing or simply ignoring other important aspects of freedom of religion or belief, such as running charity institutions, offering education services or participating in public debate. It is therefore advisable not to isolate the element of worship, but to see it in conjunction with the other elements of the right to manifest one’s religion or belief through observance, practice, and teaching. The chapter also discusses issues of interpretation such as the ceremonial use of plants and drugs, as well as ritual slaughter and observance of dietary practices.

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