As I’ve previously said, I try not to concern this blog, which is more focused on my personal interests, with my professional work at the Center for Inquiry. However, there is some overlap between my personal interests and professional work, and every so often I share Center for Inquiry-related things on this blog based on the idea that I think my readers would find them interesting. I think this symposium on freedom of religion and conscience, to be held this April 27 in Washington, D.C., fits the bill:

Should a corporation operated by religious believers be exempt from a federal rule mandating contraceptive coverage for employees, while an organization run by nonreligious persons is not? Should an employee who objects to performing certain tasks on the basis of their religion be accommodated, while objections by a nonreligious employee are ignored? Should a religious organization receiving government funding be allowed to hire only adherents of their particular worldview, while a secularist organization cannot do the same?

In cases like these, religious conscience has traditionally been considered to provide a legitimate exemption from standing laws, whereas nonreligious commitments generally have not. But in his controversial new book Why Tolerate Religion? philosopher and legal scholar Brian Leiter argues that governments are wrong to single out religion and religious demands as deserving any special legal protection. Leiter contends that the reasons for tolerating religion are not specific to religion, and instead apply to all claims of conscience—and that governments are not required to grant exemptions of anykind, religious or otherwise, from laws that promote the general welfare.

To examine this contentious issue, the Center for Inquiry is proud to host a day-long symposium on April 27, 2013, at Washington, D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Threatre. Speakers include Brian Leiter, Jacques Berlinerblau, Caroline Mala Corbin, Wendy Kaminer, Ronald A. Lindsay, Barry Lynn, and John Shook. 

You can find more information, including registration details, here.

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