Parent 1: I am too lazy to get up in the morning to get my kids to school.
Society: What an evil parent!
Parent 2: For religious reasons, I don’t allow my kids to attend school.
- – -
Society: What do you care what other people do with their private life?
Person 2: It is against my religious belief if some other people get married.
Society: We’ll have to take this objection seriously.
- – -
State: We’ll send the bailiff.
Taxpayer 2: I don’t want to pay taxes for religious reasons.
State: Oh, there is a certain tax status for that. You are welcome.
- – -
Butcher 1: I kill animals in a way that they bleed to death.
Society: How barbaric!
Butcher 2: For religious reasons, I kill animals in a way that they bleed to death.
Society: How barbaric! [There is no difference in opinion here because this is a Jewish and Muslim practice.]
- – -
Freedom of religion as a human right originally meant that the state must not interfere in a citizen’s religion, must not impose a certain religion, must not ban any religion and must not discriminate against citizens based on their religion. It was not intended as a right to be used by religious people to carve out ever more niches of society in which they apply their own rules or even try to force the rest of society to accept their rules.
Freedom of religion is a particularly sensitive right because it protects the belief in something which people can make up and re-interpret as they want, often arguing some instructions allegedly issued by somebody who doesn’t exist. Such a construct is prone to be abused. The more it is sought to be extended beyond its original meaning, the less serious it will be taken. If freedom of religion turns into a general freedom of doing whatever one wants, we don’t need a special human right for it. It only makes a mockery of all other, more important, rights.