Human Rights and the Crucifix

Andrew Brown on the Guardian Comment is Free website has posted an interesting piece on the use (or abuse) of human rights in political struggle over religious symbolism.

Commenting on the recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights to continue allowing Italian schools to display the crucifix, he says that “the idea that human rights legislation should be used to prevent children from being exposed to a crucifix is a profoundly totalitarian and superstitious perversion of one of our civilisation’s best inventions.”

Procedural secularism – the neutrality of the state towards religious (un)belief – is not the same as promoting atheism.  Andrew Brown suggests that trying to use human rights legislation to advance a political (or indeed religious) agenda risks undermining the broad popular support on which human rights, which are essentially artifical constructs, depend.

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