Emerging Challenges to Religious Freedom in America and Other English-Speaking Countries

Gerard V. Bradley

in The Future of Religious Freedom

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199930890
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980581 | DOI:
Emerging Challenges to Religious Freedom in America and Other English-Speaking Countries

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The near-term challenges to religious liberty in America are unique. They are sharply different from the dramatic and often heartbreaking challenges in most of the rest of the world, where violent persecution and government intimidation are common. They are more subtly different from those in other English-speaking democracies, such as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Those societies are more secular than is America, and are therefore more inhospitable than is America to public collective and institutional religious witness. This chapter describes these comparisons in detail. The chapter also describes the leading challenges to religious liberty in America. These circulate around the notion of “conscience protection,” or the accommodation of religious persons and institutions as they interact with government and with other huge public undertakings, especially the vast American healthcare system. The focal points of these challenges are two. One is what the British scholar Ian Leigh calls the emerging “orthodoxy” of sexual orientation equality. The second is putatively equal access to “reproductive health services”, notably including contraception and abortion.

Keywords: religious freedom; conscience protection; same-sex marriage and conscience; laicite; healthcare exemptions; secularism

Chapter.  7928 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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