Hurting Religious Feelings

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Complaints about hurting religious feelings have become prevalent in the public discourse in Israel, as in other corners of the world. The purpose of the paper is to show that the notion of hurting feelings is very problematic and that it is overused in contemporary moral and political discourse. The paper comprises three theses: conceptual, normative, and historical. The conceptual thesis offers an explanation of what hurting feelings means and what the typical cases of hurting religious feelings are. The normative and most important thesis concerns the role that should be allocated to claims about hurt feelings in moral-political decisions. I shall illustrate this thesis through a critical analysis of the Bar-llan Road case. The Bar-llan Road in Jerusalem passes through a large ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, and the Minister of Transportation decided to close sections of it to traffic on Saturdays and holidays during the times of prayer. The Supreme Court upheld the minister's decision, which was regarded by the Court as giving the right weight to the importance of protecting the religious feelings of the residents. Finally, the historical thesis argues that the prevalence of claims concerning hurt religious feelings is notably a modem phenomenon which has to do with the status of religious groups within an encompassing secular society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-214
Number of pages16
Journalתרבות דמוקרטית
StatePublished - 2000


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