Transformations of Law between Religion and Society

Increasing diversity of religions and worldviews as well as growing secularisation in contemporary societies represent new challenges to democratic constitutionalism. The role of religion and the legal position of religious communities in a secular state is once again under question. At the same time, the function of religious freedom in liberal democracies needs to be re-ascertained, thereby taking into account the diffusion of ethical, religious, and cultural orientations and affiliations, notably in immigration societies.

The aforementioned transformations of factual environments and normative frameworks trigger repercussions not only on the spiritual, but also on the legal self-understanding of religious communities and on how they position themselves in secular societies. On the one hand, the egalitarian freedom ethics of human rights confronts religious traditions with emancipatory demands which are often difficult for them to digest. On the other hand, religious traditions can understand themselves as critical sites of emancipation from power structures inherent to the secular legal framework. Yet for this, they themselves resort to legal, especially human rights codings. The reciprocal relationship between religion and society is thus subject to a dialectical process of transformation through the medium of law. In particular, this is manifest in disputes about the foundations and the conception of human rights, notably their emancipatory potential.

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