The coddling of the religious mind: How overaccommodation of religious sensitivities in Europe distorts the true meaning of freedom of religion or belief

In their inspiring and provocative book, ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’, G. Lukianoff and J. Haidt warn about three dangerous ideas which spread through universities, causing problems to young people and, ultimately, to liberal democracies. These ideas, which they call the Great Untruths, are: the Untruth of Fragility, the Untruth of Emotional Reasoning, and the Untruth of Us Versus Them.

Yet, this warning could just as well be addressed to those who call for a wider accommodation of religious sensitivities by the European Court of Human Rights and/or the high courts in the European states. This is particularly common in three types of cases, involving: (1) conscientious objection, (2) blasphemy legislation, and (3) religious dress in a courtroom. In my presentation, I will seek to demonstrate why this direction is inevitably wrong if freedom of religion or belief is to retain its major role as a guarantee of pluralism, indissociable from a democratic society.