Religious Freedom and its Limits
Where do we draw the line on religious freedom? To what extent should we protect religious expression and at what cost? These are a couple of the questions being explored by Lori Beaman in her studies as a Canada Research Chair. She hopes that her answers will help define the sort of nation Canada is—and should be.
Beaman examines the ways in which we define religion and how these definitions are translated into interpretations of religious freedom. In the process, she takes a close look at the theoretical underpinnings of the limitation of religious freedom as it is currently viewed by Canada's courts.
Beaman is also analyzing the global implications of various definitions of religious freedom. This part of her research involves an examination of case law from Britain, the United States, and France because she recognizes that observations about religious freedom apply across national borders, and fit more broadly into the domain of human rights.
This research is helping to clarify various important religious and societal issues such as the application of Sharia law in a "secular" state, the legality of polygamy, and the role of religion in public debates over same-sex marriage. Beaman hopes that it will also produce the kind of academic tools that can be used in the assessment of such issues in Canada and elsewhere in the world.