Religion, Rights and Secular Society

Religion, Rights and Secular Society

European Perspectives

Edited by Peter Cumper and Tom Lewis

The expectations of many that religion in modern Europe would be swept away by the powerful current of secularization have not been realised, and today few topics generate more controversy than the complex relationship between religious and secular values. The ‘religious/secular’ relationship is examined in this book, which brings together scholars from different parts of Europe and beyond to provide insights into the methods by which religion and equivalent beliefs have been, and continue to be, protected in the legal systems and constitutions of European nations. The contributors’ chapters reveal that the oft-tumultuous legacy of Europe’s relationship with religion still resonates across a continent where legal, political and social contours have been powerfully shaped by faith and religious difference.

Chapter 6: Religion and secular values in Spain: a long path to a real religious pluralism

Eugenia Relaño Pastor

Subjects: law - academic, european law, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights

Extract

The demise of Franco’s dictatorship heralded a new period in Spanish history, one that paved the way for a transition to democracy. The old systems were overturned, including the powerful role the Roman Catholic Church had played for more than 30 years in Spanish politics. Spain, quite suddenly and profoundly, had ceased to be a Catholic state. Yet in the period leading up to the establishment of the new Spanish Constitution in 1978, calls by secularist groups for a strict separation between Church and State were not successful. The new Constitution enshrined the principle of State neutrality and incorporated the principle of religious freedom according to international human rights norms. But it also explicitly declared that the State did not have an official religion, and stated that public authorities ‘should take into account the religious beliefs of Spanish society and shall maintain appropriate cooperative relations with the Catholic Church and other confessions’.

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