The growing presence in Western society of non-mainstream faiths and spiritual practices poses a dilemma for the law. 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” (SBNR) on the future legal understanding of religious freedom. Unlike SBNR belief systems that can encompass multiple religions, philosophies, and folklore, traditional legal interpretations of “freedom of religion” are based on organized religion and are ultimately shown to have failed to evolve along with ideas about religion itself.
Jeremy Patrick is a lecturer in the School of Law and Justice at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia, where he also convenes the law, religion, and heritage research program team. His work on religious freedom, the separation of church and state, blasphemous libel and similar topics can be found in journals such as the Journal of Law and Religion, the University of British Columbia Law Review, and the University of Queensland Law Journal.