Religious freedom in Europe – when both sides go too far

theguardian: Linda Woodhead.

Who could have imagined that a court in Cologne would, this year, rule the ancient and sacred practice of male circumcision illegal, or that the previous year the European court of human rights (ECHR) wouldoverturn its earlier ruling that crucifixes should not be displayed in state schools? The see-sawing nature of such judgments about religious freedom suggests something is going seriously wrong in the way the whole issue is being approached.

American commentators think they know what it is – the chickens of European secularism are coming home to roost. Marginalise religion, install secular elites and what do you get? A new secular intolerance to match Europe’s old religious intolerance. Bans on headscarves and minarets strike Americans as egregious. Such things could never happen in the US, with its more robust tradition of respect for religious freedom.

A woman wearing niqab walks at Square Trocadero near the Eiffel Tower in Paris


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