RELIGIOWEST is an interdisciplinary endeavour to bring together legal, sociological and political insights in the study of religion in the West. It aims at studying : 1) how different western states (in Europe and North America) are redefining their relationship to religions, under the challenge of increasing religious activism in the public sphere, associated with the spread of new religious movements (evangelicalism, cults) and Islam, 2) how this process mobilizes a complex array of often unrelated actors: courts, administrations, business milieus, but also practicing believers who want to be recognized both as citizens and members of a faith community, public opinion eager to curb what is perceived as “foreign” or “extremist” expressions of religion, politicians navigating between political correctness and populism, and “external” actors, like the US government, the European Court of Human Rights and transnational organizations (the Catholic church, the Muslim Brotherhood), 3) how this process is gradually producing a new and common paradigm of the relationship between states, the public sphere and religion, contributing paradoxically to European integration.
We intend to make field-works in 12 countries, both in North-America and Europe, adding Turkey. After studying the specific national legal frameworks dealing with religion in public sphere, we intend to analyse the potential convergences in framing a new common paradigm of the place of religion in the public sphere. The project aims at providing tools for a common European policy implementation on religion.
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