The secularity of law and the freedom from religion

Calo, Zachary (2021). The secularity of law and the freedom from religion. In: Durham, W. Cole; Martinez-Torron, Javier and Thayer, Donlu eds. Law, Religion, and Freedom: Conceptualizing a Common Right. London: Routledge, pp. 54–60.



Debates about the relationship between law and religion – be they concerned with freedom of religion, or freedom from religion – are often debates (implicitly and explicitly) about the structure of secular order. One issue of particular significance is the facile conflation of the secular with freedom from religion. It is often proposed, for instance, that a commitment to secular values entails shielding law from religion and religious influence. The result is that law and religion debates are often framed as binary disputes between religious and secular values. It is common to frame secular law and secular politics as the creation of modernity. According to a standard line of argument, the modern liberal state emerged from the ashes of the European Wars of Religion of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in order to free politics from the violence of religious conflict.

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