Original Research

Changing religious landscapes challenge confession-based state policies on religion

Matthias G. Inniger, Jacobus M. Vorster, Riaan Rheeder
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 54, No 1 | a2527 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v54i1.2527 | © 2020 Matthias G. Inniger, Jacobus M. Vorster, Riaan Rheeder | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 July 2019 | Published: 27 February 2020

About the author(s)

Matthias G. Inniger, Unit of Reformed Theology and the Development of the SA Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa; and Reformed Church Bern-Jura-Solothurn, Bern, Switzerland
Jacobus M. Vorster, Unit of Reformed Theology and the Development of the SA Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Riaan Rheeder, Unit of Reformed Theology and the Development of the SA Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Share this article

Bookmark and Share

Abstract

In contrast to state-religion systems of separation, many European states have a confession-based policy on religion. This describes the relationship of the state to one or more preferred state-recognised religious confessions. State recognition, or preferential treatment of the chosen religious confessions, can occur in many variations. These preferred confessions are predominantly the (former) Christian state churches. Such policies date from a period when Christian state churches involved a major part of the population. In view of changing religious landscapes, traditional confession-based policies have developed an exclusive character. These policies include only chosen declining religious groups, while they exclude groups that have gained social relevance. Notwithstanding the new situation, many governments have hitherto failed to address the need for the adjustment of their policies on religion. Unadjusted policies are unsuitable to deal creatively with religious diversity in today’s society. Governments that treat religious communities differently come into conflict with state neutrality and religious peace. This article opens the door to a six-part study, arguing that confession-based state policies on religion should incline towards greater inclusiveness. It is in the state’s best interest to mobilise the positive potential of all religious-sociological groups. This article specifically focuses on the changes that are becoming apparent in today’s religious landscapes and how these changes challenge traditional confession-based policies. It lays the foundation for the subsequent articles as a case study and a new conceptual framework for a fair, progressive and peacebuilding policy on religion for the Swiss Canton Bern.

Keywords

changing religious landscapes, confession-based policy on religion, public peace, state neutrality, state (non-) recognition of religious communities, social potential of religious communities, Swiss Canton Bern.

Metrics

Total abstract views: 346
Total article views: 256


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.