chapter  3
21 Pages

The Aesthetics of Religious Freedom

ByBenjamin L. Berger

This chapter explores the extent to which aesthetic commitments influence the manner in which religion is imagined and dealt with by the law. It offers examples drawn from the Canadian law on religious freedom that suggest the potency of peculiar intuitions or framing assumptions about space and then time that inform the culture of law's rule. The City of Outremont, a vibrant part of Montreal, is home to a large Orthodox Jewish population. A group of petitioners from the Jewish community sought relief from the Quebec Superior Court, claiming that the actions of the City interfered with their constitutionally protected right of religious freedom. The range of secularisms and varieties of religious establishment that one finds in modern Western traditions are constituted in part by the force of these mythic stories carried through the authority of law. The evolutionary constitutional culture in Canada brings a host of compacts and compromises forward to shape religious freedom and religious establishment quite differently.