Religion as Identity and the Fundamental Rights Obligations of the EU

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

Religion as Identity and the Fundamental Rights Obligations of the EU

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This chapter demonstrates how the Union's identity-based approach fits in with its fundamental rights obligations. It analyses the various justifications for religious freedom and notes how respect for individual and collective religious rights can often come into conflict. In line with its fundamental rights obligations, EU law has recognised individual and collective religious freedom as largely private rights linked to notions of personal autonomy in matters of identity. However, the right to adhere to a religious identity can be required to yield to the general public interest in the maintenance of a non-theocratic, democratic system. This is consistent with the caselaw of the European Court of Human Rights, which has not generally required the accommodation of religious choices in non-private contexts such as the labour market when such choices clash with prevailing cultural norms. Accordingly, the basic framework provided by the Union's fundamental rights obligations requires significant protection for religious identities in private contexts but enables Member States to curtail such identity rights in non-private contexts in order to promote either their communal cultural identity or the democratic nature of the public order.

Keywords: human rights; freedom of religion; democracy; theocracy; culture; private sphere; secularism; European Union; equal treatment; discrimination

Chapter.  17744 words. 

Subjects: EU Law

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