This invites questions of the limits of toleration, but also of in what areas of law is toleration to be an important issue. For example, there is an established debate in criminal law over the criminalization of some cultural and religious practices such as the use of otherwise illegal drugs in religious ceremonies and of bodily “cutting” in, for example, female genital mutilation.
But, whilst these debates are well-established, there are also other areas that have not been thought about as much through the lens of toleration. For example, to what degree ought citizens tolerate – or expect to be tolerated – when in the public sphere? Ought public (non-sexual) nudity or begging be something that one ought to expect fellow citizens to tolerate?
In family law, in 2008 the then Archbishop of Canterbury argued that the incorporation into UK law of aspects of Sharia law seemed “unavoidable” in matters relating to marriage and finance when those affected were from some parts of the Islamic community.
Even in constitutional law, in discussions over the nature of any proposed EU or British constitution, questions have arisen over whether (and if so how) to recognise the relevant “Christian heritage”
Following the 2012 Morrell Conference on Toleration and the Law, the Centre is looking to organise events around these and related questions.