Democracy, Law and Religion, Religion and Politics

NWO to finance research project ‘Religion Renegotiated: Faith-Based Organizations and the State in the Netherlands since the 1960s’

Pleased to have received a major grant recently from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for the above research proposal, submitted by Prof.dr. J.C. (James) Kennedy as principal applicant, and myself as co-applicant. James Kennedy is an American historian who since 2007 has worked as professor of Dutch history since the Middle Ages at the Universiteit van Amsterdam (

Recent controversies in the Netherlands strongly suggest that the relationship between ‘faith-based organizations’ and the state is being redefined and renegotiated. The important relationship between ‘church’ (defined here as all faith-based organizations, including houses of worship) and ‘state’ (including not only national developments but also those at the municipal level, as well as the influence of Dutch and European courts) invites systematic investigation. In so doing the project hopes to shed light on developments not only of the Dutch case, which has generated much comment, but also transnational ones.

The proposed research offers an empirical, legal and historical examination of the grounding for Dutch government policy toward faith-based organizations. Although the focus of the project is clearly historical, and institutionally embedded in the humanities, it is at the same time more widely interdisciplinary. Thus, it intends to profit from the legal expertise of the co-applicant and several of the societal partners, including two researchers who, on behalf of two of these partners, will assist the co-applicant in his analysis of longer term developments in Dutch and European case law on the topic of the relationship between faith-based organizations and the state.

The users’ group includes both users in the proper sense of the word, and legal advisors of such organizations, as representatives of government and actors involved in the legislative and policymaking process. Apart from a continued involvement in the contents and planning of the proposed research, the partners will either be facilitating the proposed research by providing the research team (including two new positions of doctoral student and postdoctoral fellow) with expertise in terms of access to their (international) networks or archives during the first two years of the project, or assist in the dissemination of the main results of project during its final two years through the organizing of closed and public conferences and meetings and the partners’ own media.

For more information on the NWO research programme ‘Religion in Modern Society’, see


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