Academic journal article
By Lodberg, Peter
Journal of Church and State , Vol. 54, No. 3
Law and Religion in Europe. A Comparative Introduction. By Norman Doe. New York- Oxford University Press, 2011. 336pp. $55.00.
Compared with other continents, Europe is a special case when it comes to the issue of law, church, and religion. The Constantinian model from the fourth century established a very close relationship between state and church, and European history has been shaped by the ongoing cooperation and tension between state and church: the worldly power and the religious power. What makes Europe European is, among other things, the idea of Machtkritik (critique of power) produced by the ongoing struggle between the secular and the religious sphere in European society.
Norman Doe, professor of law and director of the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University Law School, reassesses the classical doctrine that there are three basic models of state-religion relations in Europe: state-church, separation, and cooperation. He is aware of the historical, political, and social differences among the European nations that have led to the three-fold typology. But what is more interesting and important is Doe's argument that the similarities between national laws are also profound because in all European state-religion structures the idea of cooperation between state and religion is present in different ways. These common principles suggest, according to Doe, a homogeneous European approach to the legal accommodation of religion in contemporary society- especially within the member states of the European Union. One of the important insights of this book is that it seeks to compare the national laws on religion in Europe in the context of the wider legal environment of European Union law and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The author presents a very detailed investigation into different areas of state-religion relations: The Scope, Sources, and Systems of Religion Law; Religious Freedom and the Individual; Religious Discrimination and Hatred; The Legal Position of Religious Organizations; The Autonomy and Ministers of Religious Organizations; The Protection of Doctrine and Worship; The Property and Finances of Religion; Religion, Education and Public Institutions; and Religion and the Family: Marriage and Children. In the last chapter on the religion law of the European Union, Doe arrives at a very interesting and convincing conclusion: "[W]hen the EU accords 'religious perspectives a particular degree of recognition and facilitation in policy-making,' under which 'religious bodies are recognized as elements of civil society which the union will maintain a dialogue,' this simply reflects a basic principle of religion law common to the States of Europe" (p. …