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The relationship between the national and the European dimension of religion: on the controversy concerning the Christian roots of Europe

Vol. 4, No. 1, August 2008
Deutsch | français

Virginie Riva, CRPS-Paris 1

The drafting of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and, subsequently, the drafting of the European Constitution, with regard to the inscription of the religious, then Christian, heritage in the Preamble, gave rise to a controversy that is analysed here under its French and Belgian aspect. The study of this mobilisation allows us to analyse what is at stake in the articulation between the national and European level of apprehension vis-à-vis the question of religion. The European experience in terms of a political project starting with the European citizenship established in 1992 led the various national societies, and perhaps France above all, to react in favour of a proper national model of management of religious issues or at least in favour of new modes of understanding religion in the public realm. In return, religion is also an identity resource used either as a source of resistance in order to extend the unpopular national orientations on the European level or as a source of political and moral delegitimization of that new political arena. The European political space thus constitutes a new field of opportunities for religious-based mobilizations.