The forgotten history of religious liberty. Richard Johnson Lecture, 2020*

Journal article


Irving-Stonebraker, Sarah Louise. (2021). The forgotten history of religious liberty. Richard Johnson Lecture, 2020*. Journal of Religious History. 45(4), pp. 644-658. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9809.12805
AuthorsIrving-Stonebraker, Sarah Louise
Abstract

The idea of religious liberty is so normative to the modern world that it is enshrined in The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Despite its significance, however, its history is not well understood; there is a popular myth that religious liberty was a secular invention of the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment. The annual Richard Johnson Lecture 2020 sets out to debunk this myth by unearthing something of the forgotten history of religious liberty. I chart the evolution of the concept of religious liberty and the intertwined ideas of freedom of conscience and the free exercise of religion. This intellectual history focuses on five seminal historical moments: the origins of the New Testament idea of conscience in the first-century Mediterranean world; the development of conscience as a right in medieval natural law; the toleration of religious minorities and arguments for freedom of conscience amidst the bloodshed of the Protestant Reformation; the codification of the idea of religious liberty at law in various states in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world; and the negotiation of this tradition of religious liberty in colonial Australia. This intellectual history enriches our historical understanding of one of the most poignant and contested religious ideas in the contemporary world.

Year2021
JournalJournal of Religious History
Journal citation45 (4), pp. 644-658
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ISSN0022-4227
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9809.12805
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85119155748
Page range644-658
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online12 Nov 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted30 Aug 2021
Deposited19 Nov 2023
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