Law and Politics of Freedom of Religion in Comparative Perspective
47(1) University of Western Australia Law Review 1-14 (2020) (with Brett Scharffs)
This article introduces a Special Issue examining the law and politics of religious freedom in Australia in the University of Western Australia Law Review. It argues that freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is of paramount importance to all human beings, including those who are parts of a religious majority, religious minorities, those who reject religion, and those for whom it is not an important part of how they identify themselves. Among others, we argue that the right to religious freedom is a key protection against majoritarian oppression, and should be available to religious groups even while they transition from majority to minority status. It is a matter of principle. In the context of the recent heated debates in Australia over religious freedom and equality, we emphasize, affirming Carolyn Evans' exhortation, that it is not helpful to reduce the issues surrounding religious freedom protection versus equality in “simple terms” and that there are legitimate tensions that “cannot be reduced to simply put one group in the right and the other in the wrong.” Both sides should take each other seriously, and indeed respectfully, in determining the best way forward.