Individual Spirituality and Establishment

Jeremy Patrick is a Lecturer for the University of Southern Queensland School of Law and Justice

In a previous piece on the ICLRS blog, I argued that the legal understanding of freedom of religion should be extended and interpreted to encompass individual spirituality. The beliefs of the “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) may be very different than the traditional understanding of religion as a hierarchical, institutional, fixed set of beliefs about God that impose duties on believers, but I suggested that, nonetheless, the spiritual views of “SBNRs” should be given respect and protection. But from a constitutional perspective, freedom of religion is just one side of the coin. What about the other side: establishment of religion? In what follows, I intend to sketch the contours of how individual spirituality may interact with constitutional guarantees of non-establishment.


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Freedom of Religion or Belief in Belgium: Some Religions are More Equal than Others

Jelle Creemers coordinates the Institute for the Study of Freedom of Religion or Belief (ISFORB) at the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven (Belgium) and is a postdoctoral research fellow of Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen).

So-called “Western” nations are not the usual suspects of intrusions into religious liberty. The reason seems obvious: legislation and policies which protect freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) are typically well embedded in and very compatible with strongly secularized contexts with a high appreciation of individual freedom and human rights—typical character traits of said “Western” nations.

While severe intrusions of FoRB involving state-sanctioned use of force are infrequent, there is sufficient reason to also keep a close eye on these nations.


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