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Title: On the Collective Right to Religious Liberty in the Secular State
Author(s): BOUCHER, Fran├žois
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 28    Issue: 2   Date: 2021   
Pages: 149-179
DOI: 10.2143/EP.28.2.3289667

Abstract :
Standard liberal accounts of political secularism assert that individual believers should be accommodated within shared public institutions. However, many claims based on religious freedom insist on the collective and institutional dimensions of religion. Hence, religious institutionalists claim that freedom of religion requires that each religious community be allowed to set up its own pervasively religious institutions operating according to religious norms that depart from the liberal standards at work within the secular state. In this article, I discuss two different arguments purporting to support religious institutionalism. The first claims that treating believers as equal citizens requires the adoption of a framework of religious institutional pluralism. The second claims that religious institutional pluralism is the only way to respect the principle of church autonomy, which asserts that religious organizations should enjoy jurisdictional authority over matters of internal governance. I argue that the argument from equality is mistaken. I also argue that only a moderate version of jurisdictional autonomy is convincing and compatible with political secularism.

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