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How compatible is religious freedom with other freedoms?: The ways in which defending the religious rights of one can diminish the freedom of another and the role of conflict as a consequence
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 states that all people are entitled to freedom and equality. Providing freedom is an important part of democracy and development yet the process is not always simple and it faces many obstacles. Freedom is identified in many forms but one of the most contentious forms is freedom of religion and conscience; it is currently the subject of heated debate as some prioritise it above all other freedoms whilst others argue that religion is too often the cause of conflict and should not exist at all.

Providing freedom of religion means defending a person’s right to practise their religious beliefs, though some can hinder the freedom of others. One of the obstacles facing the provision of various freedoms might be the defence of religious freedom. In order to make more people more free, it may be necessary to limit religious freedom to a certain extent.

By employing an abductive approach, this qualitative desk study infers from the observation of occurrences where religious freedom has detrimentally affected or been affected by another form of freedom that an inverse relationship might exist and furthermore that conflict could result. The cases, each one an incident taking place in a highly developed and democratic country, were collected from online newspapers, primarily the BBC, and were analysed using Mill’s Harm Principle as a framework.

It was found that, rather than threatening other forms of freedom, defending the religious freedom of one group is more likely to threaten the religious freedom of another group. Small-scale, recurring conflict is a common occurrence, most often resolved judicially and in favour of the majority. It was concluded that freedom in all its forms is not possible for all people simultaneously and that limiting freedom to avoid harming others it also likely to cause harm. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 51 p.
Keyword [en]
freedom, religion, democracy, conflict, Mill’s Harm Principle, human rights
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-28876OAI: diva2:648406
Subject / course
Peace and development
2013-08-29, 17:00 (English)
Available from: 2013-09-23 Created: 2013-09-16 Last updated: 2013-09-23Bibliographically approved

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