Limits to liberty

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Richard Lucas (Letters, 8 May) claims individual freedoms should be restricted for the good of society, which of course they already are in myriad ways.

He then spoils his argument by suggesting that Christianity should be the arbiter in the matter of restricting individual freedom, as against a secular humanism which apparently stands back and says “anything goes”.

Anyone studying religion through time and cultures might reasonably conclude that it is religion that is very bad for society, with its history of human sacrifice, pogroms, inquisitions, book and film banning, crusades, slavery, conquest and so on.

Mr Lucas has complained to this newspaper many times about what he sees as curtailment of religious freedom and an attack on his rights. Clearly the “rights-based individualistic permissiveness” he condemns is just fine and dandy when religious belief is the beneficiary.

I think he should be more appreciative of the fact that secularism defends the right of people to have a religion, change it or not have one at all – only restricting the exercise of religious freedom, and the freedom not to believe, when it impinges on the rights of others who do not share it.

Secularism is the best way, and the only way, to achieve Mr Lucas’s desire to “restrain individual freedoms to protect the wellbeing of wider society”.

Alistair McBay

National Secular Society

Atholl Crescent

Edinburgh

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