Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Religious Freedom, Democracy, and International Human Rights"

John Witte, Jr. & M. Christian Green, Religious Freedom, Democracy, and International Human Rights, 23 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 583 (2009).

Witte and Green's article is a general overview of some of the religious freedom issues facing nation-states around the globe. Noting that democracy and human rights guarantees are flourishing in theory, the article cautions that "religion and freedom do not yet coincide in many countries, however rosy their new constitutional claims are as to religious rights and freedoms for all." (p. 584). The article briefly examines the question of whether religious freedom is a universal good or an artefact of Western/Christian hegemony (it favors the former view). A summary of the various international law documents on the subject of religious freedom is given, including the two Islamic declarations of human rights. In a key section, the article identifies three main issues countries are grappling with on the religious freedom front: 1) Proselytism/Evangelization, 2) Conversion & Apostasy, and 3) Blasphemy and "Defamation of Religions". The article works well as a survey/introduction to this area of law, but is too general to be of much use to scholars in the field.

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