The tension between religious freedom and non-discrimination principles is becoming increasingly acute. International human rights treaties usually affirm the importance of both equality and of religious freedom, often with little guidance as to how the two are to be reconciled in the many contexts in which they come into conflict. Questions about the appropriate way to balance the two rights arise with particular regularity around discrimination on the basis of sex, sexuality and religious discrimination. Should patriarchal religions be forced to admit women clergy – or at
least lose their tax exemptions if they do not? Should religious employers be able to give preference to co-religionists or to dismiss those who do not uphold the teachings of the employer religion? Should religious schools that receive state funding be required to admit all students regardless of their religion, sex or sexual orientation? These questions have become more urgent with the increasing reliance on religious groups to provide services such as education, health, assistance with employment, welfare, adoption and a myriad of other schemes, often as part of government policies that rely on private provision of government services.
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