Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds Looking at the three cases discussed so far, notably the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, we notice important differences in the way they govern state-church relations. France is perhaps the only European country that clearly and quite strictly separates church from state. Germany has no official state religion, but it does give some privileges to religious societies as public law corporations, including the capacity to levy taxes on their members. Britain, by contrast, has an established church, but has in practise evolved, as Tariq Modood explains in his interview earlier this week, into a religious pluralism regime within the framework of its multicultural citizenship policy.
Skip to 1 minute and 1 second Both Germany and Britain allow for religious instruction in schools, and an important share of their public schools are faith schools. This is different, though, in France, where the school system is secular. Reconsidering the cases of Britain, France, and Germany we may identify some common features. While the position of the state towards religion in Europe today is characterised by neutrality, in the sense that the state is obliged not only to endorse but also to facilitate religious equality and pluralism, this neutrality is often biassed in favour of an historical majority religion that enjoys specific privileges.
Skip to 1 minute and 43 seconds And while in the European continent, attendance to religious ceremonies is declining, particularly for those of Christian faith, the importance of residual Christian-majority religiosity remains in the background. Challenges arise in relation to new religions, and in particular with regard to Islam, which has been put under a negative light, particularly in the last 20 years, seen as foreign or incompatible to Western liberal and secular values and policies. However, looking closer into the rules and institutions that govern church-state relations, we find that Islam, as other new religions– Scientology, to mention one– is often disadvantaged by rules established under a different historical moment that aim to govern relations among different Christian denominations.
Skip to 2 minutes and 33 seconds In the steps that follow we shall inquire further into the principles and practises of moderate secularism in Europe, looking also for ways to overcome their majority religion bias.