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3 Religion in a Democratic Society: Safeguarding Freedom, Acknowledging Identity, Valuing Partnership

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Chapter Summary

This chapter comments on three concentric bands of increasing mundanity, and decreasing legal clarity, within that wider picture -namely: first, the safeguarding of religious freedom in public life; second, the acknowledgement of religious identity as a dimension of citizenship; and third, the valuing of religious communities as partners with statutory authority in the functioning of civil life. It can be seen immediately how these three aspects depend on one another: the formation of effective partnerships requires an acknowledgement of the partner's identity, which in turn will imply some guarantee of their freedom to maintain and express that identity. Through all three of the concentric circles of safeguarding religious freedom, acknowledging religious identity, and valuing partnership with religious communities, it is evident that religion continues to play a crucially important part in contemporary and diverse democratic societies.

Keywords: authentic partnership; democratic society; religious freedom; religious identity



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