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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: July 2020

2 - The Liberal Egalitarian Account

Summary

Legal discourse increasingly struggles to understand why religious liberty matters. Many prominent scholars have suggested religion is one possibility in the individual’s cultivation of authenticity, or a species of the individual’s ethical freedom – albeit one that, nevertheless, still raises difficulties for secular authority. On this account, accommodating religious belief when it clashes with the general law, providing favourable tax relief for religious bodies, or endorsing religious belief as part of the state’s identity is problematic. These are possible instances of illegitimate discriminatory action. By singling out religion as a category for special demand or special solicitude, they are contrary to equality. Why religion, rather than any other form of individual commitment? Why should the state, concerned with facilitating and negotiating diverse conceptions of the good life, afford religion such privileges?