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.