Religious Conscience, the State, and the Law

Historical Contexts and Contemporary Significance

Edited by John McLaren & Harold Coward

Subjects: Legal Studies
Series: SUNY series in Religious Studies
Paperback : 9780791440025, 247 pages, October 1998
Hardcover : 9780791440018, 247 pages, October 1998

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Table of contents


1. Introduction

Harold Coward and John McLaren

2. Willing to Suffer: Law and Religious Conscience in Seventeenth-Century England

Justin A. I. Champion

3. Excommunicating the Governor's Wife: Religious Dissent in the Puritan Colonies before the Era of Rights Consciousness

Cornelia Hughes Dayton

4. Enlightenment and Conscience

Martin Fitzpatrick

5. Speech for the Soul: Religion, Conscience, and Free Speech in Antebellum America

Elizabeth B. Clark

6. Jewish Nongovernmental Organizations, Religious Human Rights, and Public Advocacy in the Twentieth Century

Irwin Cotler

7. Communal Property and Freedom of Religion: Lakeside Colony of Hutterian Brethren v. Hofer

Alvin Esau

8. The Doukhobor Belief in Individual Faith and Conscience and the Demands of the Secular State

John McLaren

9. The Law and Reconstituted Christianity: The Case of the Mormons

Carol Weisbrod

10. Anti-Semitism and the Growth of Rights Consciousness in Western Europe and North America

Phyllis M. Senese

11. The Struggle to Preserve Aboriginal Spiritual Teachings and Practices

James [Sákéj] Youngblood Henderson

12. Expansion and Constriction of Religion: The Paradox of the Indian Secular State

Robert D. Baird

13. Religion and Public Education in Canada after the Charter

Elizabeth J. Shilton

14. The Cultural and Religious Heritage: Perspectives on the Muslim Experience

Azim A. Nanji

About the Authors


Examines claims to freedom of religion by minority, unorthodox faith groups and how these challenges to the state and the law have contributed to the development of civil rights discourse and practice.


This book examines the history and significance of religious freedom claims by minority, unorthodox faith groups and the contribution their challenges have made to the development of rights discourse and practice in North America.

John McLaren is Professor of Law at the University of Victoria. He is the editor of, most recently, Essays in the History of Canadian Law, Vol. 6, British Columbia and the Yukon ( with H. Foster), and Law for the Elephant, Law for the Beaver: Essays in the Legal History of the North American West (with H. Foster and C. Orloff). Harold Coward is Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society and Professor of History at the University of Victoria. He is the author of Pluralism: Challenge to World Religions and several books published by SUNY Press, among them Derrida and Indian Philosophy and, as editor, Traditional and Modern Approaches to the Environment on the Pacific Rim.


"Religious Conscience, the State, and the Law raises interesting questions and sheds new light on the issues of toleration. The case studies that are its main focus are absolutely fascinating, and they provide a range of situations with which anyone thinking about the complex issues of toleration and multiculturalism must deal. For that reason alone, this volume is invaluable. Even the more familiar cases are put in their historical contexts in such a way that they take on new meanings. Anyone interested in issues of religious toleration should want to understand the cases discussed here, and they will find the discussions extraordinarily useful. " — Richard H. Dees, Saint Louis University

"The juxtaposition of both specific and general cases is enlightening. The fact that the book covers Canadian, European, United States, and Native American cases provides a sense of comparison of this issue which is crucial to civil liberties, religion, and political science. The authors know their material and provide some clear insight into the general issue. " — Robert N. Minor, author of The Religious, the Spiritual, and the Secular: Auroville and Secular India