On a global level, we are witnessing a revitalisation of religion, which also includes a re-politisation of religion, particularly within contemporary Islam. Religion has become, once again, a politicaltopos.1 The secularised western world2 is thus facing a new challenge, for which it appears to be inadequately prepared. The idea of freedom of religion, guaranteed as a fundamental right, obliges western democratic states to respect the religious activities of their citizens and to secure their free de- velopment. Therefore, the state is principally neither allowed to favour nor to dis- criminate against certain professions of faith. This concept of equidistance is known as the principle of state neutrality:3 it commits the state to generally withdraw from
Vattimo, Die Spur der Spur, in DIERELIGION 107 (Jacques Derrida & Gianni Vattimo, eds., 2001); GIANNI VATTIMO, JENSEITS DES CHRISTENTUMS. GIBT ES EINE WELT OHNE GOTT? 29 (2004); J\u00dcRGEN HABERMAS, ZWISCHENNATURALISMUS UNDRELIGION. PHILOSOPHISCHEAUFS\u00c4TZE 7 (2005); Jacques Derrida,Glaube
KREUZ IN DER SCHULE 69 (Winfried Brugger/Stefan Huster eds., 1998); for a critical perspective,see ROLF SCHIEDER, WIEVIEL RELIGION VERTR\u00c4GT DEUTSCHLAND? 16 (2001); for neutrality as a character of the GermanGrundgesetz (Basic Law), see for example Rolf Gr\u00f6schner, Freiheit und Ordnung in der Republik des
religious issues, especially the political act of defining what can legitimately be classified as religion and religious behaviour.4 The leeway given to the self- conception of religious groups by the German Federal Constitutional Court and its wide understanding of what kind of behaviour has a direct relationship to faith and therefore deserves protection by the freedom of religion, is to be understood against the context of this general principle. However, with regard to the new chal- lenges mentioned above, the neutrality principle increasingly serves yet another purpose. The courts use it as an exit-option in order to avoid addressing problems which appear to be too complex for the law relegating religion to sociological study. In this context, state neutrality merely functions as ach iffre for indifference. But this strategy of avoidance, though understandable in the light of the complexity of religious pluralism, undermines the law\u2019s function of conflict resolution. Fur- thermore, it neither corresponds to the historical development nor to the functional aspects of the idea of religious freedom.
The state\u2019s withdrawal from religious life corresponds to the withdrawal of religion from politics more generally.5 The differentiation between politics and religion, first established by the Pope in the Investiture Conflict6, modifies the idea of religion \u2013 particularly Christianity. Religion now demands an internalisation by one\u2019s own conscience, the forum internum, which then is primarily constituted by an observa- tion not of others, but of the Other,i.e. God. The liberalisation of conscience corre- lates to the internalisation of faith, the public ceremonial exercise of which is lim- ited to non-political aspects. From this individualist perspective, religious tolerance
VERFASSUNG. \u00dcBER DEN RECHTLICHEN UMGANG MIT KULTURELLER DIFFERENZ 233 (2000); for a skeptical view,see Frank Holzke, Die \u201eNeutralit\u00e4t\u201c des Staates in Fragen der Religion und Weltanschauung, NEUE ZEITSCHRIFT F\u00dcR VERWALTUNGSRECHT 903 (2002).
is a rather pragmatic concept: since the individual conscience cannot be forced to the right decision, any act of violence becomes futile.7 Therefore, the state is then justified in abstaining from using its power to enforce religious commands. Accord- ing to John Locke, the state, while still receiving its direction from God, is limited to those tasks that have a non-spiritual character.8 The state so conceived has the secu- lar purpose of guaranteeing the lives of its citizens, but \u2013 for theological reasons \u2013 it cannot guide the inner beliefs of citizens through force when it comes to matters of religion.9 Citizen deviance from religious commands, which a majority of the popu- lation might still regard as absolute truth, no longer calls for persecution, but tolera- tion. This explains the continuing reservations to Catholicism: its capacity of an institutionalised decoupling of individual faith and politics was called into ques- tion.10 Accordingly, there are voices claiming that within the Islamic world this move from a \u201ccollective\u201c to an \u201cindividual\u201c subject, which makes tolerance in the modern sense possible, has not yet occurred.11 Hence the de-politisation of the Is- lamic world \u2013 if possible \u2013 is still to come.
historical example of French absolutism and serving as a mere prologue of \u201ctrue\u201c tolerance merging in the rules of public discourse, is onesided.See J\u00fcrgen Habermas, in J\u00dcRGENHABERMAS/JACQUES DERRIDA. PHILOSOPHIE IN ZEITEN DES TERRORS. ZWEI GESPR\u00c4CHE,GEF\u00dcHRT, GELEITET UND KOMMENTIERT
ment of the Catholic idea of the statesee RUDOLF UERTZ, \u201eVOM GOTTESRECHT ZUM MENSCHENRECHT\u201c. DAS KATHOLISCHESTAATSDENKEN INDEUTSCHLAND VON DERFRANZ\u00d6SISCHENREVOLUTION BIS ZUMII. VATIKANISCHENKONZIL, 1789-1965 (2005). Hegel, still, considered Catholicism to be incompatible with the idea of the modern state.See GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL, VORLESUNGEN \u00dcBER DIE PHILOSOPHIE DER GESCHICHTE 530 (Werke [Collected Works], ed. Glockner, vol. XI).
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