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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

From the back cover...

From the Back Cover

Religious freedom is the prototypical liberal freedom, a cornerstone of modern political rights. Freedom of Religion and the Secular State examines the concept of religious freedom, focusing on today's hot-button issues, including blasphemy and religious vilification; the teaching of biological evolution in schools; the health and welfare of children (particularly where religious beliefs clash with modern forms of medical treatment); claims by some religious organizations for a right of conscientious objection (e.g. doctors who refuse to perform abortions); and the recognition of Sharia law in Western societies.

Such issues are topical, controversial, and intransigent. Somewhere at the core of contention lies fear of overweening government power, used to impose a favored understanding of the world - or another, transcendent, world - or to persecute those with a different understanding.

With a background in legal and political philosophy, philosophy of religion, and moral theory, Russell Blackford traces the historical background both of religious persecution and the modern liberal state's embrace of secularity and religious freedom. Engaging in contemporary debates, he argues for a balanced view of what religious freedom is about, and how the state should approach it.

3 comments:

Darrick Lim said...

Excitement! On my 'to read' list.

Will there be a film adaptation?

Russell Blackford said...

Haha! Hope so!

Darrick Lim said...

Seriously though Russell, I look forward to reading your take on this topic. Earlier this year I became a contributing writer for a Malaysian organisation promoting science, skepticism and secularism in my birth country. Since then I've been (re)acquainted with the repressive aspects of Malaysian politics, especially where religion is involved.

While I do follow the local Aussie scene vis-a-vis secularism and religiosity, I feel that Malaysia needs a lot more work for it to achieve anything close to Australian standards of civil liberties and secularism (NSCP brouhaha notwithstanding). Hence my decision to support this Malaysian group in whatever way I could.

Your arguments and ideas in your forthcoming book will be very helpful to me in this capacity.

Ok, shameless self-plug: here's a recent-ish piece I wrote for Unscientific Malaysia (UM), the aforementioned skeptic group. It's in response to a horrible smear campaign carried out by religious bigots against a Malaysian friend, who's also a member of UM. The amount of vitriol and harrassment my friend received simply for criticising Islam and associating with atheist/freethought groups shocked me. Guess it shows how living in a secular and fairly irreligious country for so long has made me complacent.