Many Nations under God: The Unsecular State of Europe

John T.S. Madeley
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The political resurgence of the religious factor across the world has had its counterpart in Europe, only recently renowned as a the locus classicus of secularization trends which the rest of the world could eventually be expected to follow as night follows day. This paper argues that few of the many nations of Europe were ever as secular as reputed and that in particular state secularization -- unlike the secularization of society or even religion itself – has typically fallen well short of the sort of strict separation of religion and the state that the US constitution, for instance, mandates. The European model of church-state-society relations has always privileged religion and might yet, if properly managed and regulated, provide for an accommodation of minority faiths such as the various branches of Islam and New Religious Movements which could set an example to the rest of the world.

Keywords: Secularization of the State
Stream: Political Science, Politics, Religion, Spirituality
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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John T.S. Madeley

Lecturer and Deputy Convenor, Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science

With an initial interest in the religious factor in the politics of Norway -- and later of the whole Nordic area -- I have moved on to studying the varying patterns of church-state relations across the whole of Europe. The contemporary relevance and significance of this area of research is highlighted by the resurgence of the religious factor across the world, an development to which Europe has been far from immune. The variety of patterns found and the different dynamics associated with them raise analytical questions and issues of both theoretical and practical import.

Ref: H06P0333