Religious Freedoms Should Include Spiritual Beliefs
Nearly three quarters Spiritual of Australians checked None on their religion questions at the last census, up from 19% in 2006. Many people don’t realize that although some Nones. While they may be atheists and agnostics are out there, many others have faith. It’s not mainstream religion, as we commonly understand it.
In the west, there seems to be a rise in people who identify as spiritual but not religious. McCrindle’s 2017 report indicates that 14% of Australians fall into this category. A Pew Research Study in the USA found that 27% of Americans identify as spiritual, up 8% from five-years ago.
Maybe Australia’s faith understanding is changing not because certain groups are winning or losing adherents. But because the idea of organized religion has been increasingly discarded.
This trend, regardless of its cause, is especially relevant given the Ruddock review on religious freedom. Because Australia’s religious identity is changing, I believe that religious freedoms should also be extended to those with spiritual beliefs.
The Supreme Court of the United States was asked during the Vietnam War whether conscripts. Who did not believe in a Supreme Being. But held spiritual beliefs that opposed war, could be eligible for conscientious objectionor status. In that case, the Court ruled that even those who do not believe in God. Can have spiritual beliefs that are worthy of protection and recognition.
Common spiritual beliefs include divination (such astrology or tarot card readings), alternative healing (for example crystals and Reiki), nature having a spiritual essence and reincarnation. There is also the possibility to communicate with the spirits of those who have passed on. One testament to the influence and interest of these spiritual seekers is the popularity of New Age and Mind+Body sections in bookstores.
They all have one thing in common: they choose their own spirituality. This means that they pick and choose particular beliefs from many religious traditions, then add, on an individual basis, ideas from what might be call folklore, pseudoscience or personal intuition. This is what Rebecca French, a legal scholar, calls grocery cart religion.
The West developed the fundamental right to freedom of religion alongside toleration, which is the notion that a country can allow multiple religious groups to freely operate within its borders. However, the assumption was that religion was practice by organizations.
When courts ask about whether someone has violated their right to freedom from religion, they request proof that the beliefs were religious in nature and that the person was sincere in holding them. This usually requires proving membership in a religious group which has established moral obligations that the person was trying to adhere to.
Courts have always considered idiosyncratic religious beliefs unworthy of protection. This reasoning is either implicit or explicit. It states that people with spiritual beliefs don’t necessarily have to be religious, as any beliefs they may have been lightly adopt can be easily discard.
A 2013 American case involved a spiritual counsellor named Psychic Sophie. Her beliefs were influence by the New Age movement and Jesus teachings, natural healing, metaphysics, and other sources. Because she use multiple religions and philosophical systems to create her worldview, her religious freedom claim to exempt from licensing and zoning requirements was reject by the courts. These influences on Psychic Sophie’s inner flow did not make her personal philosophy a religion, according to the courts.
However, I believe that the judicial understanding and application of freedom of religion must evolve along with religion. It doesn’t matter if those beliefs are as real to the spiritual, but not religious person as they are to regular church attendees.
Freedom of religion found on the belief that the government should not burden conscience matters. Which the most deeply held moral beliefs and values a person might have without their consent. More people should allowed to shelter in the umbrella of the freedom of religion doctrine. Which is characterize by a spirit of generosity and tolerance.