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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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Spain. Important Changes in Religious Landscape and Public Policy (Julia Martínez-Ariño)


← 174 | 175 →


Important Changes in Religious Landscape and Public Policy


Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen

Spain has undergone deep transformations in the religious field since the democratic transition initiated after the death of Franco in 1975. This article provides a general overview of the main changes that occurred both in the religious landscape and in public policy governing religious diversity. After describing the broad societal transformations that have shaped the State’s relations with various religions, this paper will provide a more exhaustive account of the current religious configuration of the country. It will then outline the primary ways in which the State conducts governance of religious diversity, followed by a more detailed description of the case of religious education in schools.1

The democratisation process in Spain introduced far-reaching political and social change. In the religious field two main processes characterised that period: the Constitutional disestablishment of the Catholic Church and the secularization of State institutions, on the one hand, and the decreasing influence of the Catholic Church over the lives of Spanish citizens, on the other hand. When at the end of the 1990s, Spain became a country of immigration, its religious profile shifted profoundly as a result of the arrival of people from myriad cultural and religious backgrounds. ← 175 | 176 → Yet, the existence of religious minorities is nothing new. What is new, however, is...

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