On the Secular Requirement

A Critical Review of the Demand for Secular States

in Journal of Law, Religion and State
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It is often claimed that a democratic state ought to be secular, a claim labeled here as the secular requirement. The claim is regularly treated as axiomatic by scholars and intellectuals. In the present paper, the secular requirement is challenged, and an extensive critique of the five most frequent arguments used in its support is offered. It is argued that the foundation of the secular requirement is much weaker than is commonly perceived, and that a secular state may not always be warranted.

On the Secular Requirement

A Critical Review of the Demand for Secular States

in Journal of Law, Religion and State




Charles Taylor“Modes of Secularism” p. 46 in R. Bhargava (ed.) Secularism and its Critics (1998) 31–53; Jürgen Habermas “Religion in the Public Sphere” 14 European Journal of Philosophy (2006) 1–25 at p. 4.


For instance while Harrissupra note 16 seems to subscribe to the crude version of ah he nevertheless identifies Islam as the violent religion par excellence.


As done for instance by Harrissupra note 16 and Paul Cliteur “Religion and Violence or the Reluctance to Study this Relationship” 15 Forum Philosophicum (2010) 205–226.


 For example see Foxsupra note 17 p. 26 where Fox acknowledges that religion is seldom the main issue in civil wars. That only a minority of intrastate conflicts worldwide is over religious incompatibilities is also shown by Isak Svensson “Fighting with Faith: Religion and Conflict Resolution in Civil Wars” 51 Journal of Conflict Resolution (2007) 930–949.


Casanovasupra note 9 p. 1059.


Gunning and Jacksonsupra note 27 pp. 378–379.


Taylorsupra note 1 p. 36.


Brucesupra note 50; Michael Minkenberg “Democracy and Religion: Theoretical and Empirical Observations on the Relationship between Christianity Islam and Liberal Democracy” 33 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2007) 887–909.


Rawlssupra note 63 p. 584


Habermassupra note 1 pp. 8–9


 For example see Nussbaumsupra note 10.

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