Religion takes a back seat to rights in court, says theologian

By Andrew Hough, Telegraph

The courts are endangering religious freedom because the judiciary are giving it a lower priority than equality, a leading philosopher has claimed.

Prof Roger Trigg of Kellogg College, Oxford, said that judges increasingly “curtail” the religious views of people in favour of other “social priorities”.

After studying a series of judgments throughout Britain, Europe and North America, he concluded there was a “clear trend” of judges favouring equality and non-discrimination over religious freedom.

Prof Trigg, a member of the university’s faculties of theology and philosophy, argued this was proof of how religion was coming under threat from the judiciary as part of a “hierarchy of rights”.

Prof Trigg, the founding President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, said that as a result the courts were “limiting human freedom itself”.

“Religious freedom and the right to manifest religious belief is a central part of every charter of human rights,” he said on the eve of the launch of his book on Wednesday.

“But in recent years there has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritise equality and non-discrimination above religion, placing the right to religious freedom in danger.

“There should not be a hierarchy of rights, but it should be possible to take account of all of them in some way.”

He added: “No State can be a functioning democracy unless it allows its citizens to manifest their beliefs about what is most important in life.”

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