What is freedom of conscience?

That the ultimate arbiter of your action is no other authority than yourself. That I defend your freedom to follow your own authority. And that, because I defend it, I have the right to discuss your action with you.

As we sat in his backyard in Middlesbrough, my friend Miles Richmond, the painter, described a dilemma to me:

“My neighbour is weeding her garden. She is wearing a full burqa. She can’t bend without the cloth falling into the mud and tripping her up. But – and why is this in Britain? – I cannot have a conversation with her. I want to let ...


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