Religious freedom: a critical right or a license to discriminate?

May 4, 2018

A lecture delivered at Living Freedom 2018, an Academy of Ideas residential school in London on 5-7 April 2018.

Tensions are growing around how and whether religion should be accommodated in public life. In the era of Trump, religious conservatives in America have made it easier for hospitals, doctors and employers to object to providing birth control, abortions and transgender care on the grounds of conscience. Detractors say this is discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. Similar debates are playing out across Europe. So how do we reconcile the right of faith communities to exercise their beliefs in a pluralistic society? Should we censor individuals that disagree with same-sex marriages? Is firing a midwife that refuses to perform abortions an act of justice or discrimination? Does the right of conscience mean that a pharmacist can deny emergency contraception or that they can provide it even if it is forbidden? Or both? Has the United States gone too far in protecting the faithful? Has Europe gone too far in neglecting them?

SPEAKER

Jon O’Brien
president, Catholics for Choice

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