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date: 18 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins with the concepts “secular,” “secularity,” “secularization,” and “secularism” and summarizes core results of social science studies into the changing role of religions in contemporary societies, Then it discusses problems with the construction of models of the governance of religious diversity in the social sciences and presents some empirically grounded normative models of relations between (organized) religions and societies, cultures, politics, law, and the state in order to draw some normative lessons. The chapter provides a critical discussion of first- and second-order normative principles that should govern the these relations. For rich empirical descriptions and explanations in the social sciences, grand narratives or umbrella concepts such as secularization, secularism, and postsecularism fail to capture different complexities, configurations, and trade-offs. The different meanings of “the principle of secularism” are discussed and a proposal to replace them by rights and principles of liberal-democratic constitutionalism offered.

Keywords: secularism, secularization, religious diversity, rights, liberalism, democracy

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