JUSTICE - No. 68

10 No. 68 JUSTICE citizens of England and the UK. There is intrinsic value of incalculable worth in the European pluralism that validates both France and UK as acceptable models in which the individual right to and from religion may take place. This, then, is how I would frame the issues against which the spate of cases and debates currently at issue/ deliberated in the European public space must take place. All too often, these debates are reduced to the difficult line drawing exercises between freedom of and from religion and their counterbalancing by other social mores. We all accept that when it comes to the right of freedom of religion, this, like all other fundamental rights, is not absolute. We would not allow, in the name of religious freedom, human sacrifice, or even the kind of conduct that incites to hatred or threatens public order and peace. Individual liberty is “balanced” against a collective good variously defined. But surely freedom from religion is not absolute. The principle of collective good against which it should be balanced would, in my view, be the aforementioned collective freedom of a self-understanding, self-definition and determination of the collective self as having some measure of religious reference. Surely, freedom of religion requires that no school child be obligated to chant God’s name no matter the context, even, for example, in the national anthem, “God Save the Queen.” But does freedom from religion entitle a demand that others not chant this and to indeed refer to a different national anthem? How does one negotiate the individual and the collective rights at issue here? Meaningful, ethical, deontological, identitarian and pragmatic results may benefit from this reframing. My suggested reframing, as it was originally presented to the ECHR in the Lautsi case, is reprinted following this article. n Joseph H. H. Weiler, BA (Sussex); LLB and LLM (Cambridge), Diploma of International Law (The Hague Academy of International Law), PhD in European Law (the European University Institute (EUI), Florence, Italy). He is currently serving as European Union Jean Monnet Chair at New York University Law School and Senior Fellow of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University.

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