The Troubled Relationship between Religions and the State: Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion (Whitelocke Human Rights Series)
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Item Dimensions: 92161414588
Label: Whitelocke Publications
Languages: EnglishPublishedEnglishOriginal LanguageEnglishUnknown
Manufacturer: Whitelocke Publications
Number Of Pages: 314
Publication Date: September 11, 2017
Publisher: Whitelocke Publications
Studio: Whitelocke Publications
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The issues discussed in this book all stand at the crossroads of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. In some cases, the two rights clash when somebody practising their right to freedom of speech affects others’ rights to freedom of religion, as in instances of blasphemy and hate speech. In other cases, the two rights, reinforcing one another, together provide protection for the individual. Not even this joint protection, however, is always sufficient to prevent state intervention, for example, the restriction of rights in wearing religious symbols or religious advertising rules. A question of a third type is when the state, or a state body, enters the public space and becomes the ‘speaker’ on matters of religion, in which case the state might be subject to special restrictions.
Although their ideological and constitutional foundations seem stable, the extent of freedom of religion and freedom of speech have repeatedly been the subject of public debates because of social and political changes in a dynamically transforming Europe. Identifying the precise demarcation lines between these rights by means of the law is not a task that has been accomplished completely or for all time. The increasing rate of immigration, with a resulting involuntary cohabitation of various religious cultures, as well as the continual weakening of the Christian character of the continent make it critical to find the right responses to the questions discussed in this book, both in the individual European legal systems and at the level of the European community of states and of the European system of protecting human rights.
The first and second chapters of the book discuss the appearance of religions in the public sphere and in public education. Traditionally, the state is not a subject of fundamental rights, and yet it takes a position on questions relating to religion, which—no matter how we explain it—is a type of ‘speech’. This raises the question of how such speech can be restricted, or ‘where are the limits on the “freedom of speech” of the state’? The role of the state might be to defend or even shape the community identity of its citizens.
Chapters 3 and 4 discuss the restriction of opinions with religious content. Chapter 3 analyses the restrictions on wearing symbols and clothing imposed by both the state and private entities, whereas Chapter 4 discusses the regulation of publishing religious advertisements in the media. Unlike the issues related predominantly to Christianity discussed in the first two chapters, the questions of wearing symbols and clothing also involve the restrictions of opinions expressed by followers of Islam.
Chapter 5 of the book is dedicated to questions relating to defamation of religions and blasphemy. The topicality and significance of these issues became obvious after the tragic events in Paris on January 2015, where many were killed in an attack against the editorial offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The books touches upon certain types of conduct which are rooted in religious conviction and may have legal consequences, but which, in the absence of an expressive content, do not belong to the sphere of freedom of speech. Examples of this include doctors refusing to carry out an abortion, or registrars unwilling to administer the marriage of same-sex couples. since we do not regard such types of conduct as relating to the freedom of speech, they are not discussed in this book.
Andras Koltay's seminal monograph tackles these and other issues. It is a magisterial work, possibly the best exposition of the subject available today.
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