‘Everybody entitled to freedom of religion’

Gerard Bradley (Melbourne Catholic)

“Everybody's entitled to freedom of thought, speech, conscience, and of religion,” Notre Dame University Professor of Law Gerard V. Bradley told a seminar in Melbourne last week. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

The freedom of religion seminar began with a comprehensive talk containing 10 theses on “what religious freedom is and what it is isn’t” and raised a number of thought-provoking points about the relationship “truth” has in one’s understanding of religious freedom as opposed to “conscience”, which is what religion can be referred to more widely in today’s world context.

“Religious liberty is about religion as a distinct irreducible phenomenon, distinct and unique and something that’s a part of the human experience,” Professor Bradley said. “Religion is a relationship with a greater-than-human source of meaning and value.”

In relation to today’s world, Professor Bradley said religious freedom is “grounded in the truth about religion but not in religious truth”.

“Religious liberty is not grounded in either being right or being wrong about what or who exactly is God. Religions include truths or proposition which may be true or could be false stipulations of authority.”

Professor Bradley theorised that “contemporary conscience is often thought of in the "magical" sense” and that “anyone with a rational nature can enjoy the good on religion. It doesn’t depend upon the possession of a special skill. But everyone can be or choose not to be religious.”

Later, panellists Rocco Mimmo (Ambrose Centre for Religious Liberty), Dr Berndadette Tobin (Plunkett Centre for Ethics, ACU) and Dr Sharon Rodrick (Institute for Civil Society) joined Professor Bradley in a discussion on religious freedom as freedom from coercion.

The forum concluded with an open discussion regarding political correctness in interfaith dialogue and its influence in wider topics like biology.


Freedom of Religion seminar offers food for thought on its importance in today’s society (Melbourne Catholic

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