Religion in a Juridified Society

© Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

A new study by the Religious Studies scholar Dr Astrid Reuter, from the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”, examines legal conflicts over religion in Germany and the public controversies about them. In her book, “Religion in a Juridified Society: Legal Conflicts and Public Controversies over Religion as Boundary Work in the Religious Field”, she looks at selected recent legal conflicts and public controversies over religion in Germany and interprets them as, “political conflicts over defining the borders of the religious field.” Examples include the conflict over crucifixes in Bavarian schools, head-covering for female Muslim teachers and the introduction of ethics classes in Berlin and Brandenburg. The book has been published by Vandenhoek & Ruprecht Press, Göttingen.

“Human rights have increased in importance worldwide since the second half of the twentieth century,” Dr Reuter explains. For this reason law has become an increasingly important factor in the religious field. The human right to freedom of religion is increasingly made claim to, but according to Dr Reuter, this poses a dilemma: “Freedom of religion can only be given to those who have a religion. But what is religion? And who has the right to define religion?” Dr Reuter argues that these questions supply the backdrop to numerous conflicts and public controversies over religion. “In legal conflicts over religion, the basic human right to freedom of religion can only be granted when judges decide on what is meant as a religion by this right. But by doing so they become participants in the conflicts over the borders of the religious field,” Dr Reuter explains, “They intervene in the right of religion to define itself and therefore into the freedom of religion.”
The study consists of Dr. Reuter’s postdoctoral degree thesis (Habilitationsschrift), which she completed as part of the Cluster research project, C23 Religion in Juridified Society. Legal Conflicts and Public Controversy about Religion in Germany in International Comparison. (exc/ska/vvm)

Literature: Reuter, Astrid: Religion in der verrechtlichten Gesellschaft. Rechtskonflikte und öffentliche Kontroversen um Religion als Grenzarbeiten am religiösen Feld (Critical Studies in Religion/Religionswissenschaft, Bd, 005), Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2014, 356 Seiten, ISBN 978-3-525-54023-7, 64,99 Euro.