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Religious Diversity and Secular Models in Europe – Innovative Approaches to Law and Policy (RELIGARE)

RELIGARE starts from the idea of equality and how it is challenged by the increasing diversity of religions and other convictions that are transforming Europe. The EU’s expansion, together with important migration fluxes, partly explains this increasing diversity. A growing number of citizens, many of whom are new EU citizens, now hold beliefs and values different from the majority. One observes that individuals and groups today are claiming recognition of their (religious) identity in their family life, their work place, the public space, and the ways States provide support to religious and other groupings. These claims sometimes question and disturb the existing models of secularism in Europe. Public authorities thus face demanding challenges, probably more than ever before, of establishing social cohesion. RELIGARE's overarching goals are: 1) to encourage a critical debate between on the one hand secular assumptions that form part of Europe’s legacy, including their normative frameworks (existing legal regimes), and on the other hand the practical realities (coping mechanisms and empirically grounded observations); 2) to identify, analyse and evaluate the processes which should eventually lead to adequate policy responses and, where necessary, revision of legislation. RELIGARE's research will: 1) examine the way religious diversity and pluralism are treated in Member States; 2) ascertain deficits and explore the potentials of more appropriate practices, case law, expert and target group inputs (primary sources) and academic literature; 3) advance policy recommendations to address current and future dilemmas in protecting religious diversity and pluralism, considering the role of the EU. The consortium unites academic experts from 13 research units from 9 Member States and Turkey. They are supported by an advisory board of eminent persons connected to policymaking, legislative work and the judiciary in the field of religious diversity and pluralism.