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History of religion in the Netherlands

The Constitution of 1814 formed a new starting point for the relationship between church and state. The 1814 Constitution, and the 1815 Constitution even more, contained the idea that the State should not interfere with the organisation of the church. In reality, however, the state was still actively involved in church matters. In the revised version of the Constitution of 1848, the chapter on religion was modernised. The 1848 Revision prompted the Roman Catholic Church to restore its hierarchy in the Netherlands. This was achieved in 1853. The same year, the Religious Bodies Act was enacted. Its main merit was to explicitely grant the churches freedom of their internal organisation. This Act remained in force until 1988. The following period was basically one of consolidation as far as institutional relationships between church and state were concerned. In 1983, there was a general revision of the Constitution. The revised Constitution incorporated new fundamental rights including a wide range of social rights. It provided a renewed formulation of fundamental rights which were already protected, and a new formulation of freedom of religion. As of 1983, freedom of non-religious belief is also protected by the Constitution.

D 28 September 2012    AMartijn de Koning

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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