What’s the problem with symbolic religious establishment? The alienation and symbolic equality accounts

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Debates about politics and religion in political philosophy have for a long time assumed that religious establishment is problematic. Only recently has political philosophers started to discuss this again. One result of these new discussions is a more nuanced conception of religious establishment showing that institutional links between state and organized religion can be ‘moderate’ or ‘modest’. Such forms of establishment are mostly symbolic, respect freedom of religion and do not involve forms of distributive injustice. It then becomes less clear whether and why such forms of religious establishment are problematic. In this paper I articulate and discuss two accounts sometimes invoked but not systematically formulated or discussed in the literature for why even symbolic forms of establishment are problematic, namely what I call the alienation account and the symbolic equality account. I argue that these two accounts are importantly different, since they have different implications and face different problems. The chapter articulates and explores the axiological assumptions and normative principles underlying the two accounts. This investigation raises a number of challenges that critics of religious establishment who premise their criticism on these accounts will have to deal with.
TitelReligion in Liberal Political Philosophy
RedaktørerCécile Laborde, Aurélia Bardon
Antal sider14
ForlagOxford University Press
Publikationsdatojun. 2017
ISBN (Trykt)9780198794394
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2017


  • religion og politik
  • stat og kirke
  • religionsfrihed
  • Religionslighed
  • statskirke
  • folkekirke
  • Sekularisme

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