Religions and states. A new typology and a plea for non-constitutional pluralism

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (1):55-91 (2003)
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Abstract

Political philosophy has difficulties to cope with the complexity and variety of state-religions relations. ‘Strict separationism’ is still the preferred option amongst liberals, deliberative and republican democrats, socialist and feminists. In this article, I develop a complex typology based on comparative history and sociology of religions. I summarize my reasons why institutional pluralist models like plural establishment or non-constitutional pluralism are attractive not only for religious minorities but for religiously deeply diverse societies in general. Most attention is paid defending associative democracy, the most flexible and open variety of institutional pluralism, against realist objections that group representation is incompatible with liberal democracy, that it leads to stigmatization and bureaucratization, that it strengthens undemocratic leaders, that it leads to an ossification of the status quo, and, most importantly, that it is inherently divisive undermining social cohesion and political unity. In my refutation of these objections I try to show that it helps to integrate minority religions into liberal democratic policies compatible with reasonable pluralism and to prevent religious and political fundamentalism.

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