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The Limits of Belief: Freedom of Religion, Secularism, and the Liberal State
Canadian Journal of Law and Society (2002)
  • Benjamin L Berger
Canadian courts are increasingly faced with the challenging task of reconciling a secular, liberal polity with the Charter's guarantee of freedom of religion. Conventional approaches to liberalism and secularism have made this reconciliation particularly difficult by promoting a conceptually unsatisfying vision of an a-religious and hyper-rational public space devoid of moral commitments. At the same time, liberal theorists have failed to fully appreciate the nature and demands of religious conscience. This article considers liberalism, secularism, and religious conscience, and argues for an understanding of the relationship among the three that would consist of a mediated pluralism premised upon a language of civic values. Through a case law analysis, the author demonstrates that this form of reconciliation is already tacitly at play in Canadian jurisprudence. The most theoretically consistent manner of delineating the limits of religious conscience in Canadian society, this approach gives substance to religious freedom while maintaining due regard for the common good and the gifts of secular liberalism.
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Citation Information
Benjamin L Berger. "The Limits of Belief: Freedom of Religion, Secularism, and the Liberal State" Canadian Journal of Law and Society Vol. 17 Iss. 1 (2002) p. 39 - 68
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