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European liberal democracy and the principle of state religious neutrality

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Over the last 30 years political philosophers of a liberal persuasion have developed a doctrine which mandates the neutrality of the state in matters of religion, yet nowhere in Europe have its requirements been fully realised in practice. In a majority of the approximately 50 cases, the state is committed either de jure or de facto to the support of religious organisations and their aims. In some cases the justification takes the form of a commitment to a positive, or equal treatment, version of neutrality, while in others inherited patterns of discrimination have simply not been addressed. At a time of increasing religious pluralism everywhere, associated with both immigration and the development of new religious movements, state religious non-neutrality is more and more experienced as problematic.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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