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Elizabeth Hurd on reimagining religious freedom as resistance

posted by Steven Barrie-Anthony

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, co-Guest Editor of the TIF discussion series The politics of religious freedom, reflects on the sometimes paradoxical effects of the state promotion of religious freedom—and argues that Canada’s proposed Office of Religious Freedom should adopt a more nuanced, less top-down approach:

It’s easy to assume that religious freedom is what keeps tyranny over women and minorities at bay. Presented as the alternative to such unappealing options, it’s not surprising that religious freedom has gathered the political momentum it now enjoys. Everyone is for it.

But what are they for? What are these programs doing? Is the world created by religious freedom a place in which we want to live? Are other options for living peacefully with social and religious differences being pushed aside by this laser-like focus on religious freedom? Is there an alternative? These are important questions for Canada right now.

Paradoxically, the state promotion of religious freedom may add fuel to the fire of the very sectarian conflict that religious freedom claims to be so uniquely equipped to transcend.

Read the full piece at The Globe and Mail.

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