Religion-State Relations

Available also in Arabic

Overview

What?

  • Constitutions typically regulate the relationship between religious and state authorities. They may establish a connection between the state and a particular religion or religions, recognizing a religion or giving its laws or institutions a privileged place in the legal-political system. Others declare the secularity of the state or its neutrality from religions.

Why?

  • For many people around the world, religious identification is an integral part of their communal and national identity, which some may seek to express through constitutional recognition. A desire to acknowledge and protect religious diversity in a society may also incline constitutional designers to give special recognition to various religious groups.

Why not?

  • Religious recognition or institutional establishment, religious privileges or religious law may have damaging effects on the rights of religious minorities, dissenters and people without religion. It may also increase tensions between an ‘in-group’ and an ‘outgroup’.

Where?

  • Most constitutional design processes will have to consider the problem of religion-state relations. There are particularly important constitutional designs associated with Muslimmajority countries, religiously diverse societies and societies where there have historically been tensions between religious and secular authorities.