Human rights, we are often told, are there to control abuses of power. That is true as far as it goes, but much depends on how far we are to stretch the point. It is sometimes taken to imply that if there is no power to be abused – if institutions and the people affected by them stand on a footing of roughly equal capacity to engage with and resist one another – then there is no need for human rights standards to intervene. This view has influenced understandings of the place society should accord to the basic civil and political rights, including the right to freedom of religion – a field in which Kevin Boyle has taken a strong and fruitful interest over the years.