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Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy x Jaar 2010 x
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Access_open Is de vrijheid van godsdienst in de moderne multiculturele samenleving nog een hanteerbaar recht?

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 2 2010
Trefwoorden freedom of religion, human rights, human dignity, traditional religion, unequal treatment
Auteurs Koo van der Wal
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    There are two fundamental problems with regard to the freedom of religion. The first concerns the content and scope of the right; the second, a possible unequal treatment between population groups. The first problem can only be dealt with by a preliminary analysis of the religious phenomenon, which precedes a legal definition. It turns out that there is a range of different types of religion, with on the one hand traditional forms of religion which are narrowly interwoven with the culture in question (all kinds of ‘cultural’ practices possessing a religious dimension), and on the other forms of religion which loosen to a considerable extent the ties between culture and religion. Evidently, the former types of religion cause problems in modern society. An additional problem is that freedom of religion as a modern basic right rests on a view of human being – including the idea of the inherent dignity and autonomy of the human person – which is at odds with the symbolic universe of traditional religion. The conclusion of the article is that in the modern pluralist society freedom of religion is on its way to becoming, or already has become, an unmanageable right. So the problems arising around this right (including that of unequal treatment) can only be solved in a pragmatic, not really satisfactory way. In that context, modern humanitarian standards should be observed in the implementation of the right of freedom of religion because fundamental human rights are connected with a specific concept of humanity.


Koo van der Wal
Koo van der Wal is emeritus professor of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam and the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
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