Journal Article

State and religion against the backdrop of religious radicalism

Paul Cliteur

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 10, issue 1, pages 127-152
Published in print January 2012 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI:
State and religion against the backdrop of religious radicalism

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  • Constitutional and Administrative Law
  • UK Politics


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This article is about the nature of religious radicalism and whether this necessitates a rethinking of the classical models about state and religion. The author discerns five models: (1) political atheism, (2) the religiously neutral or secular state, (3) multiculturalism, (4) state church, and (5) theocracy. Political atheism and theocracy are both rejected because they violate the basic principles of liberal-democratic society. A state church and its concomitant plea for a revitalization of Judeo-Christian culture are not likely to be successful in an increasingly pluralist society. The debate concentrates on the comparison of multiculturalism and the religiously neutral state (laïcité). Under the present conditions of religious radicalism, this article contends, multiculturalism is more likely to fissure society than provide a real common basis for national social cohesion. The model of the religiously neutral state (secular state) has better prospects. The author also evaluates two common objections to the religiously neutral state.

Journal Article.  13573 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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