The Future of Religion

Could we, or should we, separate church and state?

Europe has always had religion and it always will. The far more interesting question is what kind of religion will Europe have in the future and what relation will it have with other social institutions, above all the liberal state.

There’s a lot of double-think about religion’s relation to the state. It’s evident whenever someone says that religion should be “a purely private matter” and that there needs to be a clearer separation between state and religion. To say this assumes that such a thing can be engineered. But by what agency?  By the state and legislation, of course. In other words, the call for state-religion separation is actually a call for more, not less, state interference in religion. It implicitly recognises that the “secular” helps construct religion, and never really leaves it alone.

The privatisation of religion is a pipe dream. Europe’s historical entanglement with religion is deep and ancient. The very idea of “Europe” is a produ

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