BYU Law Review


Foremost, this paper examines the current situation of the rights to religious freedom and democracy around the world, which deserve attention and concern. Civil liberties are currently in crossfire. This article examines the foundations of the right to religious freedom. Depending on the philosophical foundations, there are two different rationales for the right to religious freedom: liberal and anti-liberal. According to the liberal tradition, the best reason to protect religious freedom rests upon the autonomy of the individual conscience. It is clear that a constitutional democracy does not allow the establishment of any religion by the government, using either executive or legislative power. In other words, there are democratic restrictions to the autonomy of the collective consensus in the sphere of religious conscience. Behind the discussions of the separation between church and state and of different forms of government, there is a struggle between the autonomy of individual conscience and the autonomy of the collective consensus. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the importance of liberal thought as the foundation of democracy, religious freedom, and all of Western civilization. The paper also shows the risk to both democracy and religious freedom if a government was to adopt the anti-liberal viewpoint of religious freedom, or in other words, the full autonomy of the collective consensus. Individuals should be free to choose how they want to live and what to believe in.


© 2013 Brigham Young University Law Review