Comparative Constitutional Law, Democracy, Dutch Politics, Law and Religion, Public Theology, Religion and Politics, Whither Europe?

Upcoming Speaking Engagement: The Global Summit in Constitutionalism | January 12-16, 2021

I look forward to participating in a great, global panel on “The Future of Constitutional Support for Religious Institutional Autonomy: Comparative Perspectives,” organized by Alex Deagon, Senior Lecturer, Queensland University of Technology, Australia and author of From Violence to Peace: Theology, Law and Community (2019).

The abstract of my paper reads as follows:

In Europe, as elsewhere worldwide, questions surrounding institutional religious freedom often play out the clearest concerning religious schools. First of all, the paper will briefly outline the relevant legal framework regarding institutional religious freedom, as applied by, e.g., the European Court of Human Rights. Not just courts are involved in safeguarding institutional religious freedom in Europe, however. Perhaps of even more importance are the various national legislatures. 

Thus, generally speaking, public funding for religious schools is not supposed to give rise to interferences with their substantive and institutional autonomy. Nevertheless, recently introduced draft legislation imposes as a funding condition on all Dutch schools, including private religious ones, that in the civic education they provide, “a positive contribution” will be made to preserve present-day liberal democracy. However, what if a school, bearing in mind, for example, classical philosophy, believes that democracy is not necessarily the best form of government? And what if, according to the school, reasonable doubt is possible, whether contemporary liberalism brings about a significant improvement in this respect? According to the Minister of Education, “children are not born democratic,” but should they be required by law to become so?

In the light of both the relevant European legal framework and this national case involving many constitutional law dimensions, the paper will conclude that a more post-liberal conception of religious freedom is desirable both in the European courts and in the various national legislatures.

See for more information on the Global Summit in Constitutionalism,

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