The growing presence in Western society of non-mainstream faiths and spiritual practices poses a dilemma for the law. If a fortune teller promises to tell the future in exchange for cash, and both parties believe in the process, has a fraud been committed? Should someone with a potpourri of New Age beliefs be accorded the same legal protection as a devout Catholic?
Building on a thorough history of the legal regulation of fortune-telling laws in four countries, Faith or Fraud examines the impact of people who identify as “spiritual but not religious” on the future legal understanding of religious freedom. Traditional legal notions of religious freedom have been conceived and articulated in the context of monotheistic, organized religions that impose moral constraints on adherents. Jeremy Patrick examines how the law needs to adapt to a contemporary spirituality in which individuals select concepts drawn from multiple religions, philosophies, and folklore to develop their own idiosyncratic belief systems.
Faith or Fraud exposes the law’s failure to recognize individual spirituality as part of modern religious practice, concluding that the legal conception of religious freedom has not evolved to keep pace with religion itself.
Law and religion scholars in the United States, Canada, and Australia will find much to recommend this work, which also contains valuable material for British law and religion specialists and sociologists of religion.
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