The article provides data that attest to the severity of the European demographic, economic, and political decline, and considers one of its manifestations, the capacity of the secular state to cope with the transformations of the European religious landscape. The secular state has been a European invention, and the decline of Europe has inevitable repercussions for its vitality, in Europe and beyond. In Europe, the weakness of the secular state has been revealed by the diversification of the European religious landscape. A declining Europe is less and less capable of managing diversity using the tools provided by the secular state. Analysis of the different models of secular states implemented in Europe is followed by a reexamination of the issue of the decline of Europe, and of its effect on the reforms that are required to adapt the secular state to the new conditions.
The conflicts between rights of God and rights of man are on the rise. On the one hand, there are some rights that are qualified as human rights in the most important international conventions and in many national constitutions. As such, they are to be respected always and everywhere. On the other hand, there are rights that are directly or indirectly attributed to the will of God. Their respect is regarded as a religious obligation to be upheld even when it implies the violation of human rights. These are the terms of the conflict and the fact that they sink their roots in non-negotiable beliefs—rights related to the very nature of man versus rights dependent on the will of God—makes this conflict particularly serious and complex. This article discusses the structural and historical causes of this conflict and proposes a few strategies to reduce the tensions between these two sets of rights.
This article answers the claim that it is impossible to implement the right to religious freedom in a coherent, non-discriminatory way. It relies on the notions of “embedded evenhandedness” and “particular universalities” to build a two-pronged approach to freedom of religion. On the one hand, this approach accepts that history and culture provide the particular framework within which the right of freedom of religion is embedded. On the other, it recognizes that the claim of evenhandedness that is inbuilt in this right can overcome the limitations of a specific context and open it to new ways to understand and implement the right itself. This tension between the universal dimension of the right to freedom of religion and its particular implementations allows affirming the possibility of religious freedoms, whose different manifestations are better protected by collecting them under the umbrella of the same legal category than by apportioning them between different rights.
In this paper I argue that the shift from liberty to equality in the legal regulation of freedom of religion is part of a larger process of globalization of law that can change the “quality” of the right to freedom of religion and belief However, this shift does not have the same impact on different areas of the legal regulation of freedom of religion and belief. Moreover, it needs to be contextualized and considered in the light of the different historical and cultural background of each country. For these reasons the shift from liberty to equality cannot be understood as a linear process. The forms it takes and its final outcome can be very different according to the legal fields and the countries that are taken into consideration. Europe, with its rich background of internal diversity, provides a good case-study to test the soundness of this claim.
In line with the OSCE's conflict prevention role and its commitments to fostering a culture of mutual respect and understanding, the ODIHR published the Toledo Guiding Principles on Teaching about Religions and Beliefs in Public Schools. The Toledo Guiding Principles have been prepared in order to contribute to an improved understanding of the world's religious diversity. Their rationale is based on two core principles: first, that there is positive value in teaching that emphasizes respect for everyone's right to freedom of religion or belief, and second, that teaching about religions and beliefs can reduce harmful misunderstandings and stereotypes. The primary purpose of the Toledo Guiding Principles is to assist OSCE participating States whenever they choose to promote the study and knowledge about religions and beliefs in schools, particularly as a tool to enhance religious freedom. The Principles focus solely on the educational approach that seeks to provide teaching about different religions and beliefs.