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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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Luxembourg. New Legal Dispositions in a Changing Religious Landscape (Antoinette Reuter)


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New Legal Dispositions in a Changing Religious Landscape

Antoinette REUTER

Centre de Documentation sur les Migrations humaines, Dudelange

The recent redefinition (2013-2015) of the relationship between the State and so-called recognized religions is currently the major issue animating the religious landscape in Luxembourg. This reform comprises a substantial reduction of the State’s future financial support for religions.1 It also brings about public recognition of Islam, its representatives having been invited for the first time at the negotiating table. Next to these moves monopolizing media attention, a recent major development seems to go largely unnoticed by the authorities and by public opinion: the staggering success of the Pentecostal “megachurches” originating in the Protestant-evangelical movement.2

Traditionally, State-Church relations in Luxembourg were grounded on dispositions inherited from the Napoleonic period.3 Translated into the Constitution, they provide for freedom of opinion while offering, to this day, substantial advantages to religions that have concluded a convention with the State, advantages that include remuneration of the clergy. For ← 119 | 120 → the Catholic Church, the financing of its fabrics and the maintenance of places of worship constitute additional benefits, along with the inclusion of religious education in all public schools (primary and secondary levels). On the other hand, these dispositions often submit those religions that are under State agreement to a certain level of State control, as the local hierarchy must meet public authorities’ approval. Over the years, the State’s commitment has...

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