This session argues that underlying rival public perspectives about religion and religious freedom in North America are rival understandings of the meaning and practice of the religious and the secular. It shows how debates over the American Office of Religious Freedom and its International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA, 1998) and very recent debates over the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom (2013) have pitted at least six basic, but very different meanings of the religious and the secular against each other in often undisclosed and usually unproductive ways. Properly naming this ‘religious problem’ is a critical first step to acknowledging and conciliating their practically polar political prescriptions.
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Director of the Centre for Christian Scholarship, Redeemer University College