This book concerns Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 18 establishes the right for all individuals to adopt personal, moral values, whether religious or otherwise (a ‘belief’) and the right to practise, observeMoreThis book concerns Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Article 18 establishes the right for all individuals to adopt personal, moral values, whether religious or otherwise (a ‘belief’) and the right to practise, observe and teach (‘manifest’) the tenets of that belief.The UDHR has been adopted by the 195 member states of the UN. The provisions of Article 18 are repeated in many international treaties. Meg Wallace addresses specifically the response of governments to Article 18 and its interpretation and oversight by the UN and the European Council.She proposes that, perhaps with the best of intentions, those responsible have overwhelmingly failed to fulfil the promise of Article 18.
Government involvement in religion is ubiquitous.Imprecision in both the terms and implementation of Article 18 has led to distracting concentration on the meaning of ‘religion’: what constitutes a religion, which religions are acceptable to government, and what limits government can reasonably place on religious practise.
Protection of non-religious beliefs is mostly ignored. Article 18 has been used to justify what amounts to sectarian interests.Looking at these issues using a ‘right from religion’ perspective, turns these justifications on their head, revealing their inherent biases.Wallace suggests the model of political liberalism, developed by John Rawls, as a means of maximising belief rights for everyone. These are based on Rawls’s notion of ‘overlapping consensus’: the principles for governance that everyone, regardless of belief, can accept.
Those principles require a secular state, impartial to the dictates of belief. Rawls’s model is outlined and used in assessing the effectiveness of Article 18.The book attempts a thorough examination of the issues involved, with copious footnotes for students who want a deeper consideration of the issues.