Distinguishing Freedom of Religion from Religious Non-Discrimination

In this paper, we argue that, while they are often conflated, the right to freedom of religion and the right against religious discrimination are in fact distinct human rights. We identify two facets of religion: religion as viewed from the committed perspective of the adherent and religious group membership as seen from the non-committal/public point of view. These distinct perspectives help us delineate two distinct interests we have with respect to religion: an interest in religious (non)adherence and an interest in one’s ability to enjoy unsaddled membership of a religious group. We argue that these interests map onto the two human rights relating to religion respectively: the right to freedom of religion and the right against religious discrimination. Finally, we outline some key implications of the distinctions drawn, especially with respect to the scope of the two rights, their application to non-state actors, and the justifiability of their breaches.