This short piece attempts to come at the current debate on law and religious freedom from two unusual angles. I end by looking at the strange and revealing positioning of “religion or belief” in current legislation in England and Wales. And I begin by putting a different spin on religious freedom by exploring the terrifying freedom of the concepts of religion and belief. We have never needed the rise of Al Qaeda, so-called Islamicism or a hardline religious right to terrify us with a resurgent specter of specifically religious (as opposed to purely “political”) “terror.” Instead of bearing down on us like some old specter of the Turk or Moor at Europe’s gates, the terror of religion emerges—or insurges (if “insurge” can be made into a verb)—from within the normative conceptualizations of religion in the so-called modern West.Read the rest of On the freedom of the concepts of religion and belief.
Yvonne Sherwood is currently Professor of Biblical Cultures and Politics at the University of Kent. She moved to the University of Kent to establish a new Centre for Religion and Critical Theory with her colleagues Ward Blanton and Richard King. Recent publications include The Invention of the Biblical Scholar: A Critical Manifesto (co-written with Stephen Moore), and Biblical Blaspheming: Trials of the Sacred for a Secular Age. Past publications include Derrida’s Bible and Derrida and Religion: Other Testaments. She is currently completing a major research project Between Abraham and ‘the Modern’: Religion, Secularity, Authority and Critique.