This chapter highlights the prospects of employing a policy mobilities perspective to advance the study of secular flows across different socio-political contexts. Originating in geography, the policy mobilities literature offers diverse theoretical and methodological tools to study the movement, mutation, and assemblages of policies across borders. Applying this framework to the sociology of religion, the chapter features two exploratory case studies. The first study examines the impact of France’s laïcité (state secularism) narrative on the Canadian province of Québec’s changing secular policy agendas in the past decade. The second study surveys the spread of “burqa bans”—laws against face covering in public spaces in five European Union countries (France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Austria, and Denmark). Qualitative data from these examples suggest that policymakers and other stakeholders routinely rely on other cases as a reference point, and interact with and learn from their external counterparts; yet rather than a simple transfer, they domestically mobilize such policies in novel configurations. The chapter contends that a policy mobilities outlook holds a vast potential to help the literature go beyond viewing religious freedoms as nationally isolated phenomena, and take into account the globally interconnected nature of historical and contemporary secularities.
This chapter examines the interactive influences of endogenous cultural and structural factors, specifically religion, religious freedom, and Gender Inequality Index (gii) scores on level of commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (cedaw) for 184 nation-state members of the United Nations and then, more specifically, for forty-five predominantly Muslim nations. The inclusion of religious freedom, religious repression, and secular repression in the analysis qualifies previous research results showing significant and persistent differences between predominantly Muslim nations and other nations on gender inequality measures and cedaw commitment. The analysis partially corroborates the earlier findings; Muslim majority nations reveal higher gii scores and lower cedaw commitment. However, adding religious freedom to the data categories shows high gii and low cedaw commitment to be most applicable to religiously repressive Muslim majority nations. Religiously free and secular repressive nations approximate all other United Nations member states’ patterns.
Do individual positions toward religious truth-claims matter for perceptions of religious freedom? Relying on a survey of 1,035 university students from Northern Italy, this chapter conducts a micro-level analysis on the social perceptions of religious freedom (sprf). Using a five-dimensional measure of the sprf concept, we find that four out of five dimensions are widely accepted with the main differences occurring between Catholic youth and religious nones. The analysis of religious truth-claims suggested that pluralism, agnosticism, and interreligious perspectives were endorsed in the sample, and all truth-claims positions were selectively associated with religious freedom dimensions. The causal relationship between pluralistic truth-claims and the religious freedom measure is not depicted while atheism, compared to other truth-claim positions, is less supportive to the societal values of religious freedom. Moreover, positive views toward religious diversity have strong positive influences on the perceptions of religious freedom as individual autonomy, societal value, and a human rights principle while neglecting religious diversity leads to the disrespect to religious freedom as a human right.
There is a substantial gap in the literature assessing the experiences and role of organizations with regard to the restrictions of religion. Exceptions exist, such as a shift toward institutional indexes of restrictions or explorations of the independent judiciary in maintaining promises of religious freedom as well as organizations as a potential actor in supporting religious rights. However, others have brushed upon the topic of organizations and freedoms, leaving room for a detailed understanding of the intersection of organizations and religious restrictions. We provide an overview of this intersection through a review of prior literature and original analyses. We begin with an overview of the extent of global regulation of religious organizations. Our second section finds the role of independent judiciaries and free and open elections in protecting religious freedoms. Third, we demonstrate that while international monitoring of religious freedoms is common, it has little impact on reducing state restrictions targeting religious organizations. Finally, we discuss the role of international social movement organizations in promoting global religious freedoms.
This chapter analyzes the interlocking systems of power between the “judicialization of religious freedom” and the regulation of sincerity of belief to argue that an autonomous judicial system is crucial for maintaining religious freedom for niqab-wearing Muslim women. I critically examine three legal studies to explore how sociological understandings of lived religion as practice can conflict with state and legal definitions over what constitutes “religious freedom.” I conclude by arguing that the judicialization of religious freedom has become instrumental for niqab-wearing Muslim women’s legal claims, access to the rights and privileges associated with citizenship and visibility in public space, while at the same time blurring the boundaries of lived religion and practice.
The multidimensionality of religious freedom and its rootedness in historical, socio-legal and socio-political contexts can be clearly exemplified through the phenomenon of Alevism in Turkey. Alevi culture has an age-old traditional structure, and thus a comprehensive critical approach is needed in the understanding of the ambivalences of ordinary religious belonging, and its transformation through formal structures, such as the European Courts of Human Rights (ECtHR). The effort to define modern Alevism in such a macro process requires a focus on the legal processes, and how these are understood, mediated and negotiated by a diverse group of mystical/spiritual leaders (dedes). The findings of this chapter emerge from in-depth interviews with eight dedes in Turkey.
The scope of this chapter is to question the impact of the Tunisian Revolution in January 2011 on the issue of religious freedom and secularism in Tunisia. To do so, we seek to develop a reflection on the concepts of secularization and laïcité with regard to this specific context and identify the main obstacles that face this country in terms of religious freedom. In the first part, we develop a socio-historical analysis of the organization of the political and religious fields (1956–2011). In the second and third part of this chapter, we present the different changes that have taken place in Tunisia since the 2011 Revolution. First, we focus on the factors that have affected religious freedom, in terms of the socio-legal context with regard to the debates concerning the articles of the new Constitution. Second, we analyze the variables within the socio-political context that have impacted religious freedom and the Tunisian secular model.