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Religion Renegotiated: Faith-Based Organizations and the State since the 1960s

27-209 | Thursday, 1:30 p.m. | HS 5
Panel Chair: James Kennedy

Christian faith-based organizations have long been regarded as constitutive to the functioning of civil society and hence granted a special position in both the communis opinio and legislation of European societies. However, rampant deconfessionalization and growing disbelief have undermined Christianity’s societal position, and with Islam increasingly becoming the religion of European-born citizens and whilst visibility of Muslim communities has become more apparent, issues on the ‘proper’ interlocution between state-religion-society are more than ever at the heart of public debate. Nonetheless, few issues are at once so central and so understudied as the relationship between faith-based organizations and the state. This panel will theoretically assess to what extent and how the boundaries between the state and faith-based organizations have been reshaped since the 1960s. The papers tackle these issues by an empirical focus on developments in social policy, the law and public debates in the Netherlands.

Leonard van't Hul

Serving the same sauce: fifty years of political debate on state-subsidies for faith-based organizations

Secularization theory, once the proud flagship of modernization theorists, finds itself in troubled waters. Paramount to the myriad of critiques is the notion that secularization is not an inevitable and self-propelling process, but that the religious landscape is highly influenced by political and legal actors. Here, scholars point at the profound secularist epistemology and interpretive logic of politicians and policy-makers which allegedly results in the gradual pushing of faith-based communities and organizations to the margins of society. This paper studies the ways in which the Dutch state (re)shaped its institutional arrangements vis-à-vis the religious field since the 1960s, by mapping out and analyzing political debates that waged at different institutional localities on the tenability of state-subsidies for faith based organizations (e.g. churches and theological universities). Doing so sheds light on the continuities and changes in the conditions under which faith-based organizations operate in modern societies.

Mart Rutjes

(No) Special relationships: public discourse on church-state relations since the 1960s

This paper outlines the ways in which state-church relations have been discussed and negotiated in public debates since the late 1960s. Generally, the scientific study of state-church interlocutions looks at synchronic constitutional and judicial arrangements. However, for a proper understanding of the position of religion in modern societies, it is imperative to take public discourse on the role and position of the state vis-à-vis faith based organizations into account. Public discourses partly reflect and overlap with political arrangements, but also serve as powerful counter narratives that have helped to shape the development of state-church relations. In this paper I analyze the history of public discourse in politics and media regarding the question to what extent and for what purpose the state should support religious denominations. I will argue that Dutch debate underwent an important shift during the 1980s, and raise the question whether this shift exemplifies a broader international development.

Hans-Martien Ten Napel

The classical liberal approach to collective religious freedom: sectarian or inclusive?

In a recent paper Cécile Laborde argues that a religious freedom approach, in order to be inclusive, cannot be 'sectarian' in the sense of singling out religion rather than protecting the generic value of ethical integrity. By providing exemptions and accommodations for faith-based organizations only, the classical liberal approach disadvantages the non-religious. Moreover, this approach is too 'narrow', in the sense that it focuses on orthodoxy instead of orthopraxy. The current paper will raise the question whether, to the contrary, a classical liberal approach to collective religious freedom doesn't still have the potential of being more inclusive than the liberal-egalitarian approach advocated by Laborde (and others). The same question will be raised with respect to a third approach which, with a view to greater inclusiveness, wants to do away with major ideals of liberalism, although admittedly states in general and public law in particular inevitably also affect faith-based organizations.