The Lautsi Papers: Multidisciplinary Reflections on Religious Symbols in the Public School Classroom


Increasingly, debates about religious symbols in the public space are reformulated as human rights questions and put before national and international judges. Particularly in the area of education, legitimate interests are manifold and often collide. Children’s educational and religious rights, parental liberties vis-à-vis their children, religious traditions, state obligations in the area of public school education, the state neutrality principle, and the professional rights and duties of teachers are all principles that may warrant priority attention. Each from their own discipline and perspective––ranging from legal (human rights) scholars, (legal) philosophers, political scientists, comparative law scholars, and country-specific legal experts––these experts contribute to the question of whether in the present-day pluralist state there is room for state symbolism (e.g. crucifixes in classroom) or personal religious signs (e.g. cross necklaces or kirpans) or attire (e.g. kippahs or headscarves) in the public school classroom.
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Biographical Note

Jeroen Temperman is associate professor of public international law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. He is also the editor-in-chief of Religion & Human Rights. In 2010, his book State–Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law was published by Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

Review Quote

“[O]ffers a wide range of disciplinary, comparative and political perspectives on the intersection of religion, secularism and human rights in Europe ... The topic is propitious for modern-day Europe and the editor is ambitious in trying to give a voice to a wide range of perspectives ... [Its] chapters ... provide useful points of comparison, especially for religious freedom and human rights scholars ... These and other essays in The Lautsi Papers are sure to spark fruitful debates about religion, secularism and human rights in European classrooms, legislators and elsewhere. Such debates will become increasingly heated in other parts of the world, too, as immigration, globalisation and secularisation all bring major shifts to political populations and political attitudes to religion, tradition and culture.” John Witte, Ecclesiastical Law Journal (17:2, 2015). “ The Lautsi Papers: Multidisciplinary Reflections on Religious Symbols in the Public School Classroom, edited by Jeroen Temperman, provides a wide-ranging exploration of some of the most difficult issues involving religion in the public school environment in a pluralistic democracy ... While the focal point of discussion of each of the book’s contributors involves [the two Lautsi] decisions from the ECtHR, the analysis and implications of many of these chapters have far broader value. Thus many of the issues and questions addressed are relevant to countries beyond the reach of the ECHR or the jurisdiction of the ECtHR ... Editor Temperman has ensured the benefits of such variety by selecting authors who possess different perspectives, backgrounds, national experiences, and scholarly research interests. The chapters thus include empirical, theoretical, and doctrinal examinations of the relevant issues. The result is a book that is well-balanced, thought provoking, and rich in resources. The varied approaches and perspectives presented in the different chapters make the book a valuable vehicle for examining legal, cultural, political, and philosophical issues underpinning governmental policy and laws involving religion in the public sphere as viewed through the lens of the public school classroom. Ronna Greff Schneider, Human Rights Quarterly (36: 3, 2014). “At the heart of this edited collection lies one affair—the Lautsi case—and one symbol—the crucifix. In 16 chapters, the book offers multiple analyses of the challenge raised against the mandatory presence of crucifixes in Italian state schools. From a variety of perspectives, the chapters all address the fundamental underlying question of the place of religion in public education ... [T]he book offers a fascinating read. The contributors, most of them lawyers, come from a diversity of sub-disciplines and jurisdictions, ranging from legal theory, human rights, constitutional law to comparative law, law and religion, and legal philosophy. They are spread across the UK, the Netherlands, Romania, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Hungary, and the US. The book will thus be of interest to a large audience: public lawyers, human rights experts, educationalists, philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, and scholars of religion ... As the dialogue about the place of religion in the public sphere continues, this particular collection, edited by Jeroen Temperman, will offer a rich and fascinating contribution to the debate.” Myriam Hunter-Henin, Journal of Contemporary Religion (Volume 29:1, 2014). “The plethora of chapters (by an array of scholars from various disciplines) in the Lautsi Papers provides for many important (and contentious) insights pertaining to religious rights and related matters. This work is of the utmost value for those interested in the display of religious symbols (and religious expression) in the public sphere and its inextricable implications for insights related to understanding the ECHR’s approach to: the protection of human rights; proselytism; indoctrination; minority and majority rights protection; the parameters of a supranational judiciary; neutrality and the public sphere; children’s rights; parental rights; pluralism; the nature of religious symbols; and a general understanding of the mind of the ECtHR (and related complexities) in matters related to religious rights and freedoms.” Shaun de Freitas, International Journal for Religious Freedom Volume 6:1/2, 2013.

Table of contents

Table of International Instruments; Table of National Legislation; Table of International Cases; Table of National Cases; List of Contributors; Chapter 1 Introduction Jeroen Temperman PART I JUDGES & RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS Chapter 2 The Strasbourg Court and Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights: A Quantitative Analysis of the Case Law Silvio Ferrari Chapter 3 The Role of Judges in Determining the Meaning of Religious Symbols Brett Scharffs Chapter 4 Limitations of Supranational Jurisdiction, Judicial Restraint and the Nature of Treaty Law Jean-Marc Piret PART II SYMBOLS, EDUCATION, INDOCTRINATION & PROSELYTISM Chapter 5 Crucifixes, Classrooms and Children: A Semiotic Cocktail Alison Mawhinney Chapter 6 Freedom of Religion versus Freedom from Religion: Putting Religious Duties back on the Map Stijn Smet Chapter 7 Religious Symbols in the Public School Classroom Jeroen Temperman PART III STATE NEUTRALITY & RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS Chapter 8 The Quest for Neutrality and the Stench of History Wouter de Been Chapter 9 State Neutrality and the Limits of Religious Symbolism Roland Pierik Chapter 10 Neutrality and Displaying Religious Symbols Hana van Ooijen PART IV COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES ON RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS & EDUCATION Chapter 11 Christianity, Multiculturalism, and National Identity: A Canadian Comment on Lautsi and Others v. Italy Richard Moon Chapter 12 Passive / Aggressive Symbols in the Public School: Religious Displays in the Council of Europe and the United States, with a Special Focus on Romania Liviu Andreescu & Gabriel Andreescu Chapter 13 Back to the Basics of Fundamental Rights: An Appraisal of the Grand Chamber’s Judgment in Lautsi in Light of the ECHR and Italian Constitutional Law Carlo Panara PART V LAUTSI-SPECIFIC COMMENTS Chapter 14 Neutrality in and after Lautsi v. Italy Malcolm Evans Chapter 15 Europe and the Sign of the Crucifix: On the Fundamental Questions of the Lautsi and Others v. Italy case András Koltay Chapter 16 Restricting the Public Display of Religious Symbols by the State on the Grounds of Hate Speech? Hin-Yan Liu Chapter 17 Rethinking Adjudication under the European Convention: The Lautsi Case as a Prelude to a New Mode of Review by the European Court of Human Rights? Carla Zoethout Bibliography; Index.


All those interested in human rights theory and practice on the issue of religious symbols; particularly the interplay between freedom of religion or belief, the right to education, and manifestations of religion, proselytism, coercion and indoctrination.