Balance, Inheritance, and Religion as a Basis of Law in the Public Order of the European Union

Ronan Mccrea

in Religion and the Public Order of the European Union

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199595358
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595776 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in European Law

Balance, Inheritance, and Religion as a Basis of Law in the Public Order of the European Union

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This chapter reveals how religion is recognised by the Union as an element of its constitutional values and how this role is balanced by the recognition of potentially competing humanist and cultural influences. The Union recognises the ‘particular contribution’ of religious bodies to lawmaking, but requires it be made in the context of structures that implicitly recognise the legitimacy of other beliefs and the authority of secular political institutions. The pluralism of the Union's public order enables Member States, on grounds of cultural autonomy, to reflect particular national and religiously specific visions of public morality in EU law, provided that such states respect the notion of balance between religious, humanist, and cultural influences inherent in EU fundamental rights commitments. The EU level of this pluralist public order is marked by strict adherence to formal neutrality in religious matters and by notions of public morality derived from the Union's fundamental rights commitments. Such commitments have been heavily influenced by the historical and cultural role of Christian and humanist traditions in Europe, and can be more restrictive of the ambitions of adherents to religions that struggle to accept the limitations on religious influence, inherent in a balance between religious and humanist values and in respect for Europe's strong cultural tradition of individual autonomy and popular (as opposed to divine) sovereignty.

Keywords: religion; lawmaking; secularism; public sphere; culture; Habermas; pluralism; free movement; fundamental rights; Islam

Chapter.  22448 words. 

Subjects: EU Law

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