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Religion and Law in the Netherlands

August 2017

An article from Sophie Bijsterveld shows that religion remains an influential force in our time despite the prophecy of secularization theory which argued that religion would fade away. In the context of migration, this expectation hardly came through, even in Europe where secularization is deeply rooted, because the presence of Muslim and other faith groups poses many challenges. This article examines the trajectory of state-religion relations in the Netherlands and looks at its impact on Muslims in this country. Traditionally, the state’s position has been marked by an open and friendly attitude towards religion. In recent years, however, debates on religion in the public, political, and academic domains have taken a sharper edge, and the questions that now arise with regard to religion in the public domain have become more controversial. Three elements of this new dynamic are mentioned: (1) the renewed attention to the “values” side of religion, especially in cases where these values do not easily mesh with the dominant values in Dutch society, (2) rising concerns on the balance between pluralism and social cohesion, and (3) new discussions on the functioning of fundamental rights in general and of freedom of religion in particular.

Sophie van Bijsterveld (2015), "Religion and Law in the Netherlands", Insight Turkey, 17-1, p. 121-141.

9 August 2017