Religious Freedom


This topic discusses the concerns of religious freedom in education.

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.” How free people feel to express their religious beliefs, in their speech, dress, and actions, is a different manner.

Below are a range of articles and multimedia sources to stimulate thought before the meeting. Discussion will be driven by attendees and the question, but questions we might want to think about include: How are religious freedoms affected by our changing society? How do we in universities contribute to and detract from a culture of religious freedom in our institutions? What should we do when we perceive that religious freedoms come into conflict with other freedoms? Are all religious freedoms (e.g. those consistent with majority vs. minority faiths, those that affects others vs. those that do not) equally important?

Facilitation Notes


Religious freedoms are a very contentious topics for many people. This means the conversation could easily become heated. To avoid this:

  • Remind people that this is an open space for conversation and that people’s opinions and experiences are valid, even if they contradict theirs. 
  • You could ask people to put their hands up (virtually or in-person) before speaking to allow for fair facilitation of conversation. 
  • When linking your university-specific resources, avoid any strong opinion pieces that discuss only one side of the conversation. Alternatively, you can counter them with a resource from the alternative perspective.

Discussion Questions

  • Is secularism the way to deal with religiosity in universities?
  • How can universities solve the barriers to higher education that some religious beliefs may cause?
  • Should universities be allowed to place restrictions on personal actions/dress even if it causes religious discrimination? 
  • Are non-religious universities truly non-denominational establishments?
  • Is cohesion and integration of people important in a university setting? Can religiosity pose a barrier to integration?

Resource Personalisation

You could link your own university’s information on religious discrimination/freedom. This could be:

  • Policies around religion and religious freedoms
  • New or recent media coverage around the issue of religious fredeom
  • The dress code in your university and whether it allows for the freedom to express religion
  • Barriers some students and staff may face at your university due to their religion

Culture Club.