“Freedom of Religion and The Secular State” with Australian Philosopher Russell Blackford
by Chris Smith (@ChrisSmithAV) - posted 12:23 pm, March 8, 2012
Blackford argues that religious freedom is more than a crude quid pro quo arrangement – “We won’t persecute you if you don’t persecute us.” Instead, it goes to the heart of what we think state power is really for. Do we think it’s to give citizens spiritual guidance, or is the state an essentially secular institution? That question lies at the heart of many intransigent hot-button issues that cause so much angst in current societies. What, if anything, should we do about the burqa? Should anti-religious satire be allowed? Should our laws enforce religious notions of morality – as with abortion restrictions, attacks on gay rights, and opposition to stem-cell research? Dr. Blackford proposes a way ahead that should be acceptable to most religious people, as well as to non-believers.
Russell Blackford, PhD, is an Australian philosopher, literary critic, and writer. He serves as editor in chief of the Journal of Evolution and Technology, a fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and coeditor (with Udo Schuklenk) of 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009). His newest book is Freedom of Religion and The Secular State (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). An emerging figure in U.S. circles, he is well known in Australia as a “go-to” spokesperson sought out by the media when issues concerning secularism are in the news. He is a conjoint lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, NSW, and will soon join Free Inquiry’s roster of columnists. He authors the noted blog Metamagician and the Hellfire Club and can be found on Twitter: @Metamagician.
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