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Secularism or Democracy?

Secularism or Democracy?: Associational Governance of Religious Diversity

Veit Bader
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 386
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  • Book Info
    Secularism or Democracy?
    Book Description:

    Established institutions and policies of dealing with religious diversity in liberal democratic states are increasingly under pressure. Practical politics and political theory is caught in a trap between a fully secularized state (strict separation of state and politics from completely privatized religions based on an idealized version of American denominationalism or French republicanism) and neo-corporatist or 'pillarized' regimes of selective cooperation between states and organized religions. The book offers an original, comprehensive conceptual, theoretical and practical approach to problems of governance of religious diversity from a multi-disciplinary perspective combining moral and political philosophy, constitutional law, history, sociology and anthropology of religions and comparative institutionalism. Proposals of associative democracy - a moderately libertarian, flexible version of democratic institutional pluralism - are introduced and scrutinized whether they can serve as as plausible third way overcoming the inherent deficiencies of the predominant models in theory and practice. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0192-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Summary contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-12)
  4. Preface
    (pp. 13-16)
  5. Introduction: Contested religious pluralism
    (pp. 17-32)

    Until the 1990s, the view that religious pluralism had caused deep troubles for centuries but has now ceased to create structural problems for political practice and political theory in modern state societies was absolutely predominant in politics, political philosophy and the sociology of religion after the Second World War. Religiously motivated or legitimised wars and civil wars were ‘far behind us’. The principle of religious tolerance is widely recognised, and the institutions and practices of toleration are deeply rooted. Established churches no longer have the power and authority they once did. Moreover, in many of these societies, the differentiation of...

  6. Part I Modern states and religions, sociological and historical considerations:: Setting the stage

    • 1 Secularisation and separation? Institutional diversity of religious governance
      (pp. 35-64)

      If ever there was a contested concept it must be religion. We all know what it is, we all have opinions about it, and we all judge it. Since we all know something different, our opinions and judgements differ as well. The contributions of social science and philosophy have not really helped in clarifying the issue of ‘what we talk about when we talk about religion’. In this chapter, I set out to at least clear the field a little, by focusing on two tenacious misunderstandings in the study of religion and religions. These misunderstandings are ‘secularisation’ and the ‘separation’...

  7. Part II Reconceptualising principles and making political philosophy fit for the task of accommodating religious diversity

    • 2 Contextualising morality: Moral minimalism, relational neutrality, and fairness as even-handedness
      (pp. 67-92)

      Although they do it in various ways, most liberal, republican, feminist and socialist political philosophers defend the core ideals of secularism, state neutrality and strict separation that seem intuitively so plausible in modern, pluralist societies and that have been elaborated in the most sophisticated way by American political philosophers, setting the tone for the international debate. In this chapter, I do not want to reiterate my earlier criticism of the predominant style of liberal political philosophy¹ but focus on the positive, reconstructive task. I start with a substantive, critical reconceptualisation of overlapping and mutually reinforcing principles of liberal political philosophy...

    • 3 Priority for liberal democracy or secularism? Why I am not a secularist
      (pp. 93-126)

      Liberal political philosophers have defended three closely related second-order principles that should guide discussions about the governance of religious diversity. These are secularism, strict separationism and strict neutrality. In chapter 2, I have tried to show why we should reconceptualise neutrality as relational neutrality and why this is important.

      Now I would like to turn to a critical discussion of normative secularism. In chapter 1, I elaborated a poly-contextual and perspectivist concept of secularisation. From the perspective of religions, it is perfectly legitimate to describe their other side as secular, a secular world based on secular communications. From the perspective...

  8. Part III Dilemmas and limits of accommodation, principles and cases:: Applying moral minimalism

    • 4 Religious freedoms and other human rights, moral conundrums and hard cases
      (pp. 129-152)

      Religious Freedom is an important moral principle and a basic human right, guaranteed by international law and liberal-democratic constitutions. As all other human rights, it is not an absolute right. It may conflict with other basic human rights, and these tensions and the necessary balancing are not guided by a context-independent ‘lexical hierarchy’ of basic human rights (Poulter 1998: 98-106; Renteln 2004). Its contested interpretations and appropriate applications (at least in the eyes of moral pluralists) are informed and coloured by the various regimes of religious government in liberal-democratic states. The facts that norms do not form a ‘logically coherent...

    • 5 Relational neutrality and even-handedness towards religions: Softer cases and symbolic issues
      (pp. 153-174)

      Only some ethno-religious practices of non-liberal minorities conflict with the core of minimal morality, or of minimal liberal-democratic morality. The broad variety of practices, which do not involve such conflicts (even if they require considerable accommodation) should be easier to resolve, particularly if liberal-democratic states were committed (as they should be) to the principles of relational religious neutrality and fairness as even-handedness (Bader 1997b: 790ff). This is why I speak of softer cases. Nevertheless, accommodation will encounter numerous practical difficulties because administrations and majorities may not be committed to these principles and may try to use all possible means to...

  9. Part IV Institutional models of democracy and religious governance:: Associative democracy

    • [Part IV Introduction]
      (pp. 175-178)

      Let us take stock. In chapter 4, the moral constraints of religious freedoms and of the accommodation of religious practices have been discussed. Parental or associational freedoms and church autonomy should not trump the basic interests and rights of children, women, dissenters or other internal minorities (sect. 2.2). Violations should be sanctioned by ‘external’ state intervention, although this is not the only relevant policy. Where church autonomy conflicts with principles and laws of nondiscrimination and equal opportunities, I applied the more demanding, though still minimalist liberal-democratic standards. The same standards guided my debate on relational neutrality and evenhandedness (chap. 5)....

    • 6 Moderately agonistic democracy, democratic institutional pluralism, associative democracy and the incorporation of minorities
      (pp. 179-200)

      I defended moral minimalism and minimal liberal-democratic morality against the temptations of democratic maximalism (para. 2.2.2) and indicated a progressive shift from principles and reason restraints towards virtues and institutions. Now, I defend a minimalist threshold of civic and democratic virtues (sect. 6.1). Then, I elaborate the opportunities in institutional pluralism for religious minorities. I discuss different degrees and types of institutional pluralism and compare institutional models of democracy (sect. 6.2) before introducing the general characteristics of associative democracy (sect. 6.3). In section 6.4, I analyse the differences between ethnic and religious diversity and present different models of incorporation of...

    • 7 Normative models of religious governance: Associative democracy, a moral defence
      (pp. 201-222)

      Historical and comparative analysis has shown a huge complexity of regimes of religious governance and a bewildering variety of regimes of governing (organised) religions (sect. 1.3) that is also relevant for a theory of contextualised morality. These empirical regimes are loosely connected with normative policy models, which, for the sake of practical evaluation and institutional design, have to be further reduced into a small set of really relevant options (sect. 7.1). In a short comparison of the relevant models, I try to show why associative democracy provides better institutional and policy options (sect. 7.2). In the rest of this chapter,...

    • 8 Dilemmas of institutionalisation: Associative democracy, church autonomy and equal treatment of religions
      (pp. 223-244)

      Here, institutionalisation is understood to contain the following consecutive steps: the development of mutual expectations by which new (immigrant) religions are ‘here to stay’ and also seen to be so; of their own organisations; of the different varieties of their public recognition; and of organised structures of selective cooperation at different levels of government (sect. 8.1). Institutionalisation is always a conflictive, two-way process. It involves many actors and is influenced by differential opportunity structures (sect. 8.2). Institutionalisation includes promises but also poses risks for religions, religious minorities in particular (sect. 8.3) as well as for governments (sect. 8.4). As examples,...

    • 9 A realistic defence of associative democracy
      (pp. 245-262)

      Associative religious governance, like consociationalism and multiculturalism, may be vulnerable to the following realistic objections. Notwithstanding its morally good intentions, it is said to lead to disruptive conflicts between secular or religious majorities and religious minorities, it threatens the stability of the polity and undermines minimally required social cohesion and political unity. It does so because it empowers minority organisations and leaders who, for structural reasons, tend to engage in separationist strategies, because it does not create but eventually undermines minimally required conciliatory attitudes, because it does not create but inevitably undermines minimal civic and democratic virtues and also loyalty...

    • 10 Associative democracy and education
      (pp. 263-290)

      Educational systems differ widely among and within states in terms of financing, organisation, school types, regulation and control, centralism, homogeneity, choice and so on (Glenn & Groof 2002, 2002a; Fase 1994: 207ff; Leenknegt 1997; Leiprecht & Lutz 1996). These systems are embedded in predominant cultures and institutional legacies and characterised by remarkable, stunning complexity, which is why they cannot be simply exported or imported. Schools are confronted with divergent, conflicting demands and claims by parents, students, teachers, ethnic, religious and national communities, politicians and educational authorities. Educational regimes have to find sensible balances between conflicting moral principles, and they have to respond...

  10. Conclusions
    (pp. 291-300)

    In my Introduction, I claim that the threats and promises of new religious diversity urge us to rethink our moral principles, our cherished institutional models of the relations between religions, states and politics, and our traditional policies of incorporation. On all these levels, I hope that I have shown that we should stop reproducing outworn oppositions that stand in the way of finding promising alternatives or third ways. The ritualised opposition between universalist principles of neutrality and justice and particularist partiality and perfectionism can be overcome by moderate universalism, relational neutrality and fairness as even-handedness in matters of cultural practices....

  11. Notes
    (pp. 301-346)
  12. References
    (pp. 347-366)
  13. Index of names
    (pp. 367-374)
  14. Index of subjects
    (pp. 375-386)