This month, the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion posted for advanced access Advancing Debate about Religion or Belief, Equality and Human Rights: Grounds for Optimism? By Alice Donald (Senior Research Fellow, Middlesex University School of Law). The abstract follows.
Legal judgments concerning equality or human rights and religion or belief have frequently provoked controversy in Britain. This article examines why this has occurred. It does not attempt a detailed analysis of the case law; rather, it discusses how the law has been understood and invoked in public discourse. It argues that debate about religion or belief and its place in society has been unduly dominated by particular—and sometimes partial—understandings of legal judgments. It proposes that the most productive level of engagement for those who wish to advance debate, practice and understanding in relation to religion or belief is with ‘front line’ decision-makers, such as public servants and workplace managers. It ventures that in the long term an approach based on human rights principles is likely to be more satisfactory than one which is based principally on equality.