Lobeira on Neutrality in European Public Schools.

Pablo Cristóbal Jiménez Lobeira (Centre for European Studies (ANU); Centre for Applied Philosophy & Public Ethics (CSU)) has posted Public Schools and Crucifixes: What Kind of Neutrality? – Reflexions on the Principle of Secularism in a Plural Europe. The abstract follows.

Lautsi v Italy attracted widespread attention in Europe and beyond. At stake were different conceptions of neutrality of the modern secular state. Though the contention was about a Christian symbol, the European Court’s ruling has consequences for other religions and worldviews present in Europe today. This paper will review different ways in which neutrality can be understood according to the “immanent frame” (Taylor). It will analyze secularism as statecraft and as worldview (Casanova). It will explore the role of religion in the European public sphere in a “post-secular age” (Habermas). Furthermore, it will study the concept of tolerance as inclusion of plurality in the context of Europe’s constitutional traditions than as indifference about, or even hostility towards religion (Weiler). Finally, I will propose an understanding of neutrality in the public sphere that enables interculturalism among the European citizens, and arguably the success of the European Union as an analogical polity.

Kapai on Freedom of Conscience in Hong Kong

Puja Kapai (University of Hong Kong – Centre for Comparative and Public Law) has posted Freedom of Conscience and Religious Belief. The abstract follows.

Although the freedom of religion is a constitutionally guaranteed right in numerous jurisdictions around the world, ambiguities surrounding the content of the right continue to baffle courts as well as religious subjects seeking protection pursuant to the right the world over. The conceptual underpinnings of the right continue to prove elusive. This paper traces the journey of Hong Kong courts in the elaboration of various aspects of this right through an examination of local jurisprudence to determine the scope and limits of the protections as enshrined in the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). An examination of the jurisprudence indicates the need for a sophisticated approach towards the construction of religion. Given the limitations inherent in any attempt to comprehensively categorize social and psychological phenomena, particularly in light of the importance of the liberty of conscience, the task becomes increasingly challenging given the amorphous nature of the right and the likely ramifications if it is over-extended.
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