Having in mind sociological reflexions on the differences between religion and belief, this article will explore how secular law defines religion for legal purposes. While international law on freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) provides for a broad understanding of the term religion, with the aim of achieving the most effective and far-reaching protection of faiths and beliefs, national governments take a more restrictive stance towards what counts as religion, through the policy of recognition. The state’s role as neutral organiser of pluralistic faiths increases wherever religions fail to give their meaningful contribution to society. It should then be questioned what legal means would better guarantee religious pluralism. On a theoretical point of view, it has been argued that the protection established for FoRB should be dismantled, in favour of a right to ethical independence. This proposal marks an innovative and challenging change of paradigm on the issue of religious freedom.
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