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The Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion

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Chapter Summary

The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion encompasses freedom of thought on all matters, personal conviction, and the commitment to religion or belief, whether manifested individually or in community with others. The right to freedom of religion is a very important human right, which is central to the functioning of modern democracies. The fundamental character of the right to freedom of religion is reflected in the fact that the provision protecting it cannot be derogated from, even in time of public emergency. However, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion does not protect every act motivated or influenced by a religion, belief, or personal moral sense or conscience. In Europe, freedom of thought, conscience and religion is considered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as one of the foundations of a democratic society. The bulk of case law concerns freedom of religion.

Keywords:conscience; European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR); freedom; human right; religion; thought

10.1163/ej.9789004165175.i-628.109
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