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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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Foreword (Jan Nelis)


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Université libre de Bruxelles, Université de Toulouse-Jean Jaurès

The present volume results from the activities of the Observatory of Religions and Secularism (Observatoire des religions et de la laïcité – ORELA). ORELA, a project launched in 2012 by the Centre interdisciplinaire d’étude des religions et de la laïcité, aims to monitor new developments concerning religious issues, faith-based organizations, State and Church relations and secularism, in Belgium, in the EU and throughout the world. It offers relevant analysis and a daily press review, whereas it also publishes, on an annual basis, a comprehensive report on the state of religions and secularism in Belgium. The latest report (2016) and the previous ones are freely available on the website (

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