Freedom of Religion

"Parliament shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of any religion". 

The right to "freedom of religion" also may seem to be a self evident fundamental human right today, but it too cannot be taken for granted that future governments will respect that right.  Although there is no present reason to believe that that right won't be respected, unfortunately, English history and British history are full of examples in which someone practicing the "wrong" religion was persecuted.  Thus, this inalienable right must be written into the UK Constitution.

John Z Apr 5, 2015

My proposal stated "Parliament shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of any religion", but this concept may be combined with Ian's proposal of Freedom to have no religion.  This way, the religion issue is dealt with in one proposal instead of two proposals. 

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Rob G Apr 5, 2015

I'd want a bit of a qualification to this, but I'm not entirely sure how to word it. My first thought was to add "within the law", but recognise that might open up its own separate debate.

Why do I think the suggested text needs amending? I don't believe adherents of the "unenlightened" Dutch Reform Church of South Africa (if such there be) should be able to rely on such a clause to bring in apartheid by the back door. Or adherents of certain sects be able to use this as a shield for their physical and mental abuse of children.

There's also the question of what "exercise" means - it seems a bit more "active" than "manifest" which is one of the words used in the ECHR.

John Robertson Apr 12, 2015

I have a can of worms in this long post - https://constitutionuk.com/post/79739 - listing the kinds of issues a constitutional phrase will be tested against. I wish I could suggest a good form of words!

John Z Apr 12, 2015

Hi John.

Any thoughts on the Freedom of Religion proposal?

John Robertson Apr 12, 2015

It's a balance of two un-knowns, so I don't know how to do detail...

  • unknown discrimination of the state in future
  • unknown complication of law leading to unintended privelages for bad things done in the name of faith. Like Halal slaughter.

Maybe a short general statement like "promote equality in law between individuals regardless of faith, race, gender or affiliation"? The sort of wording you see on equal opportunities policies.

(There's another thread which is heading towards the word "secular" in the constutution somewhere too, with similar problemsof how to do detail.)

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Ian Smith Apr 13, 2015

The ECHR (Article 9) says this:

'Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.'

John Z Apr 13, 2015

I don't know if including a provision referencing "morals" is a good idea.  Whose morals?  I'd delete that word.

Rob G Apr 14, 2015

That very discussion is going on at https://constitutionuk.com/post/97166 :-)

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Lasarian Apr 17, 2015

So long as it's clear it must follow the ancient 'Golden Rule' of do no harm to others and treat others as you want to be treated, then 'freedom of religion' is ok

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