'A La Carte' Spirituality and the Future of Freedom of Religion
Jeremy Patrick, ‘A la carte spirituality and the future of freedom of religion’ in Paul T Babie, Neville G. Rochow, and Brett G. Scharffs (eds.), Freedom of Religion or Belief: Creating the Constitutional Space for Fundamental Freedoms (Elgar, 2020) 58-91.
40 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2018 Last revised: 5 Jun 2020
Date Written: January 31, 2018
Although institutional religion continues on, there has been a dramatic increase in the past twenty years in those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious”. The common trait among so-called “SBNRs” is that they take an individualistic approach to religion: picking and choosing particular beliefs from a wide variety of religious traditions and then adding in, on an a la carte basis, notions from what may be derided by many as folklore, pseudoscience, the New Age smorgasbord, or personal intuition. The rise of this “new spirituality” presents challenges for the traditional application of religious freedom principles in liberal democracies which were developed in the context of institutional, hierarchical, and formalized religious affiliations. This paper examples doctrinal freedom of religion principles in Australia, Canada, and the United States and discusses how “freedom of religion” must evolve to protect spiritual beliefs that are personal and idiosyncratic.
Keywords: SBNR, Nones, Freedom of Religion, Spirituality, Religious Freedom
JEL Classification: K1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation