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Religion and Secularism in the European Union

State of Affairs and Current Debates


Edited By Jan Nelis, Caroline Sägesser and Jean-Philippe Schreiber

The present volume monitors new developments concerning religious issues, faith-based organizations, State-Church relations and secularism in the EU, which especially during the past two decades have undergone profound changes, changes which continuously and increasingly alter mentalities and habits, whether belief-related or not. In this collective work, authors develop the major themes that are relevant to their country of expertise, while a final chapter is devoted to the role of the European Courts (ECHR and EU). The different chapters show that in recent years, religion, once thought to be of minor importance in a highly secular society, has made quite a vigorous political comeback. Thus Europe seems to have reached a crucial point in its history, a moment in which future tendencies in the field of religion and secularism are being defined, and negotiated. There is little doubt that the outcome of this process will influence the continent’s future outlook, as well as its role and relevance in an increasingly globalized world.

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Germany. The Challenge of Religious Pluralism and Secularization (Sylvie Toscer-Angot)


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The Challenge of Religious Pluralism and Secularization


Université Paris Est Créteil, GSRL-CNRS

For some decades now, the nature of the relations between politics and religion in Germany has been the subject of profound mutations that are linked to secularization, to the growing importance of the so-called Konfessionslose, to religious individualization and pluralization and, most importantly, to the ever increasing presence of Islam. These evolutions, which tend to question the bi-confessional protestant-catholic balance that has for long been considered an essential dimension of German collective identity, shake up the representations of a society that has difficulties imagining pluralism and confessional neutrality without any reference to Christianity. Thus public authorities have to find political and legal means of reconciling the protection of freedom of conscience and religion, the principle of State neutrality, and equal treatment of all religious communities.

Reunification changed the situation of religion in Germany quite suddenly and significantly. The deepest change was the spectacular increase of people with no religious affiliation, unevenly distributed between the East and the West, a turning point and an unprecedented split in German history. Whereas in 1990, 22.4% of the German population declared no religious affiliation (between 75 and 80% in the new Länder), in 2014 this percentage had risen to 34 (29.9% among catholics and 28.9% among protestants).1 ← 75 | 76 →

This increase in persons with no religious affiliation is the consequence...

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