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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.

Jan Nelis has done research on the reception of antiquity under nazism and fascism, on the relation between catholicism and totalitarianism, and on the role of christianity in the EU. Having worked in Italy (Rome, Bologna) and Belgium (Ghent University, Université Libre de Bruxelles), he is currently affiliated with the Université de Toulouse-Jean Jaurès.

Caroline Sägesser holds a PhD in History from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. She has worked extensively on the relationship between public authorities and religious groups. Since 2013 she has been monitoring current developments in religion and secularism at the Observatory of Religions and Secularism.

Jean-Philippe Schreiber, historian of religions, is research director at the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research – FNRS and full professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he heads the Observatory of Religions and Secularism.