Secular Religious Establishment: A Framework For Discussing The Compatibility of Institutional Religious Establishment with Political Secularism

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Secularism as a political doctrine claims that religion and
politics should be separated. The compatibility question is whether
secularism can accept some forms of religious establishment in the
form of institutional linkages between state and organised religion. I
argue that the answer to the compatibility question is not obvious and
requires a systematic analysis of secularism. Based on a distinction
between a general concept and specific conceptions of secularism I
offer a general structure for conceptions of secularism that incorporates
both a) basic values, e.g. political equality and freedom of conscience,
b) intermediate political principles of separation, e.g. rights to religious
liberty, and c) derived normative prescriptions, e.g. that an established
church is unacceptable. I illustrate the structure using the conceptions
of secularism advocated by Robert Audi and by Charles Taylor and
Jocelyn Maclure. Given this general structure, the normative
implications of secularism, e.g. for the compatibility question, depend
on how the basic values and political principles are specified. Different
understandings of the basic values yield different conditions for
compatibility. Some conceptions of secularism are therefore compatible
with some forms of religious establishment. I illustrate the use of the
framework for discussion of particular establishment cases and how the
framework provides a structure for the normative discussion about
which conception of secularism to accept.
TidsskriftFilosofia e Questioni Pubbliche
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)119-157
Antal sider39
StatusUdgivet - 2013


  • Sekularisme
  • religion og politik
  • stat og kirke
  • Lautsi
  • religionsfrihed
  • religiøse symboler

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