Religious Conscience Protection: A Critically Important Human Right for an Increasingly Diverse Society

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A central question implicitly raised by Galston and Roger's (2012) report, Heath care providers' consciences and patients' needs: The quest for balance can be stated as follows: How can the members of an increasingly diverse society interact in a peaceful, civil manner? As the United States becomes more religiously diverse, conscience-based conflicts between service providers and recipients are likely to increase. How should the social work profession respond to such conflicts? Although many societal actors endorse the use of coercion, this article recommends a different approach. It suggests a human rights-based approach is the best way to deal with these conflicts while also simultaneously fostering a society that respects and affirms diversity. The article concludes with two case examples to illustrate the benefits of this approach for social worker practitioners and their clients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-144
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013



  • clients
  • diversity
  • human rights
  • religious freedom
  • service provision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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