After Secularization (special double issue)   /   Spring/Summer 2006   /    Articles

Secularization, European Identity, and “The End of the West”

Slavica Jakelić

If Europe is so uniquely secularized—as most scholars of religion, Western European intellectuals, and U.S. conservatives seem to agree—why is its secular character so widely and vigorously debated in the legal and political context of European integration, in the institutions of the European Union and those of the current (and future) Union members? Many disputes and disagreements surrounded the mentioning of the Christian heritage in the constitution of the European Union, the French decision about the wearing of foulards, and the debates about the public role of religions in the Netherlands, Poland, or Italy. For anyone watching—social scientists in particular—the right thing to do is not to reiterate the too often repeated arguments about European uniqueness but to ask: why are discussions about public religions and affirmations of European secular heritage happening precisely now?

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