The concept of freedom of religion is fundamental to a free society’s acceptance of religious pluralism. The idea that citizens can practice and express their faith of any and all religions is an empowering aspect of modern society. This advancement in society has created a situation where different peoples are able to coexist.
However, true religious freedom also includes the freedom from religion. This means that as well as a persons right to choose from any established religion, or anything they make up themselves and choose to call a religion, they also have the right to practice no religion at all.
There are certain considerations that need to be made when it comes to the role government plays when interacting with, and regulating, religious practices. A truly impartial government should consider no religion greater than any other. This is can be a tough policy to maintain when the government is made of, and representing, people with their own religious beliefs and agendas. The effect of a dominant religion among a population can also be a major concern in regards to the governments impartiality on religious policies.
The only policy sufficient at satisfying a government or organizations continued impartiality on religion is the dichotomous”all or nothing” approach. This means that when one religion is afforded a right, or allowed to practice an activity the government is obligated to grant the same privilege to any other party who also considers their action to be sacred, be it religious or not. Thus an organization must consider whether they are ready to accept any and all religious organizations or practices when a decision is made that may affect one of them. By affording rights, and allowing actions by religious organizations, the actions of those persons and groups who considered their conduct sacred, though not religious but of the same consequence, must be allowed as well.
Even though nearly all democratic countries make a concerted effort to stay impartial on religious issues there are still many concerns that need to be addressed. Some of the problems faced by modern countries are inherited from a society from before religious freedom was accepted. Other problems are the result of the recent integrations of religions.
The framework that has been highlighted is, in theory, able to cope with any of these historical and religious integration challenges.
Although governments and organizations do make a concerted effort to be impartial, it is the people who make up those organizations that are the largest threat to continued religious freedom, the acceptance of religious pluralism, and freedom from religion.