Does God Believe in Human Rights?
This paper considers similarities between types of religious obligation and obligations to observe or address human rights. The paper asks if there are any developing themes or rules to help us to know which, of religion or human rights, trumps the other and if so when? The paper addresses such issues from the background of an Orthodox Jewish approach to human rights. Human rights appear to be cultural rather than rationalist since they are not universal. Since no right is absolute and therefore all rights are relative what happens when religious duties clash with human rights or when the right to practise a religion clashes with some other human right? Three problematic areas of Jewish religious practice are considered: circumcision, kosher treatment and slaughter of animals and the get divorce in which the man has to give the woman the divorce. The law of the State is the one which must be obeyed as a principle of Jewish law. If we are in the world of competing rights or balancing rights then Dworkin has much to say. Cultural and religious dress and traditions are causing problems on the European continent, arranged marriages might be right, but forced marriages wrong. The paper ends with the balanced rights of a Canadian Charter case on a Québecois Succa. Paper delivered by Professor Avrom Sherr, Director, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at Colloqium on Religion and Human Rights, February 28th 2005, Institute of Commonwealth Studies.
Sherr, Avrom (2006) Does God Believe in Human Rights?
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