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Regulation of Religion? Limits of Law? What law regulates what religion?

Regulation of Religion? Limits of Law? What law regulates what religion?

Workshop Wednesday April 23rd to Thursday April 24th 2014

To be held at Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University, Building 25 – In collaboration between Global Dynamics, Cluster on Secularism, ( and the research network Fremtidens danske religionsmodel, (

The Danish (and other Nordic) religion-models have been characterized by a rather narrow understanding of freedom of religion to protect mostly rite and cult and even to some extent to argue that majority churches are not protected by the concept freedom of religion. Religious arguments in other fields, such as labor market regulation and family law have at most been seen as normative arguments in political discourses, but not as limitations to the law. On this background the Nordic countries have been able to offer a quite wide freedom of religion for minority churches with not much legal regulation as well as a system where majority churches have been following common legal standards in the countries.

These established Nordic models are however being challenged by Globalization through both migration and normative changes and by Europeanization impacting national legislation of relevance for law-on-religion. A global dynamics of migrated religion have reiterated that a core of cult and rite in religion is inviolable and pushes the established understandings of family law. Similarly, European understandings of law regarding majority churches are questioning general rights protected under labor market regulations.

This workshop discusses the general theoretical question of how religion and law regulate and limit each other by highlighting three core areas of conflict: 1) a possible forum internum for religious communities? 2) Religious requirements to employees on the religious labor market; and 3) protection of or limits to religious family law.

It is a common understanding within law-on-religion discourses that freedom of religion and belief functions as a limit to legal and political regulation of religion, underlining that law and politics have their limitations. The opposite, however, seems equally true: also religion is regulated by law and politics in situations where regulation is necessary and proportionate in a democratic society due to health, security or the protection of others’ freedoms and rights. But, the question remains how to weigh relations between strength of legal arguments and identification of a possible core of religion – and where to draw the line between the two.

The theoretical question can be further developed by taking constitutional pluralism and multi-level governance within the European Union and its member states into account. What is more, basically, law could be understood as general and encompassing all citizens, being in effect one of the carriers of a possible cosmopolitan project to the extent that we are talking of international law or ‘global law’, however in a possibly problematic discursive contrast to religions, also having a project about the world.

The three struggles this workshop focuses on are chosen in order to aim at an answer to a more principal question of whether and how religions limit law? Do laws establish limitations to religions? Which laws regulate which aspects of religion and on what basis? Where are the boundaries? Which boundaries are set by religious and legal normative systems themselves? And are there boundaries that cannot be set, because they as such empty the normative system for self-identification?

Thus within cult and rite, conflicts regarding both competences and content of norms are seen not only regarding rituals within majority churches, but also in relation to rituals for minority religions: ritual slaughtering is now forbidden in all Nordic countries and the question of circumcision of boys based on religious rite is high on political agendas.

Likewise in the religious labor market, implementation of EU-directives on general prohibitions to discriminate on basis of religion with its exemptions for religious communities do not find smooth interpretations in regard to also groups of employees covered by these exemptions as also which problems can establish possible manifested breaks of religious ethos for the communities.

Finally, the workshop addresses questions on parallel, overlapping or monolithic secular norms in regard to family life and seen controversies in all Nordic countries. This relates to a normative understanding of Canon or Rabbinic law and reflects on immigrated as well as century old practices, not least on migratory contexts and impacts.

The workshop presents a number of select papers (power point format) from invited discussants and allocates time and space for common reflections in plenum. Each paper is requested to clearly and concisely establish the possible conflict and then reflect on possible limitations established by self-regulation or by regulation from outside, including possible limits to limitations, seen from both state and religion perspective. The main question to all papers is: when the conflict is there – where do we then find the good arguments for solutions for the future? The workshop therefore invites the disciplines – the legal, political, theological, sociological and philosophical – to exercise the scholarly creativity and imagination of looking for future models of law and religion.


Wednesday 23rd April 2014, 9.00 – 9.15: Welcome and introduction:
Professor Garbi Schmidt (Global Dynamics Cluster 3 on Secularism); Professor Margit Warburg (den danske religionsmodel); Professor Lisbet Christoffersen (main responsible for the workshop).

Wednesday 23rd april 9.30 – 12.30. Auditoriet, building 25.2

What law regulates what religion? Is it possible to think in limitations of (Nordic) law? Is it possible to think in limitations of a forum internum within (majority and minority) religions? Constitutional pluralism – Multi-level governance Chair: Professor Garbi Schmidt

Introduction: Dr of Theology Pamela Slotte, Faculty of Law, Helsinki University

Professor Sten Schaumburg-Müller, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences, Aarhus Universitet (confirmed): Balancing Freedom of Religion and its limitations. A Human Rights Perspective

Dr. Anne Fornerod, Strasbourg: Soft Law Regulations of Religion

Professor, Trygve Wyller, Faculty of Theology, Oslo University: Nordic Protestantism, Secularity and Religious Laws

Associate professor, dr. Lene Kühle, Faculty of Arts, University of Aarhus: Boundaries of Religious Freedom: One Law for All?

Associate Professor, dr. Flemming Juul Christiansen, Department of Social Sciences and Globalisation, Roskilde University: Reform of the Danish National Church – a path way to an independent political institution?

Wednesday 23rd april 13.45 – 17.45 – auditoriet building 25.2

Conflicts over a possible forum internum for religious communities.

Chair: Professor Hans Raun Iversen, University of Copenhagen

Introduction: Professor Lisbet Christoffersen, Roskilde & Copenhagen Universities

Professor Tage Kurtén, Åbo Academy: Identification of a possible forum internum in a post-secular age: concepts of religion, concepts of secularity, a Nordic/North-European approach?

Associate Professor Marie Vejrup Nielsen, Aarhus University: Is it all about religion? On regulation of rituals in a Nordic Lutheran folkekirke.

Associate Professor Lise Paulsen Galal, Roskilde University: Between transnational, national and local regulations of ritual practices in Middle Eastern migrant churches in Denmark.

Dr. Victoria Enquist, Uppsala University, Law department: How come that Halal & Kosher Schächtning is prohibited in Sweden? What about circumcision of boys?

Associate Professor Floris Vermeulen, Amsterdam: Reasonable Accomodation as a possible way forward between collective freedom of religion requirements and requirements from (secular) law?

Thursday 24th 9.00 – 12.00 theory room building 25.3

Religious requirements to employees on the religious labour market– . Chair: Professor Jørgen S. Nielsen, Birmingham/University of Copenhagen

Introduction: Emma Svensson, Doctoral Student, Faculty of Law, University of Uppsala

Professor Julian Rivers, Bristol University Law department: organizational freedom for churches.

Professor Hjalti Hugason, Háskoli Islands: An Icelandic school teacher and pastor dismissed for arguing against homosexuality – a concrete case study

Dr. Jakob Egeris Thorsen, Aarhus University: Catholic approaches to labour market problems regarding employees in churches and faith based organisations

Dr. student Johannes Heikkonen, University of Turku: Autonomous under state supervision? Regulation of religious employment in Finland

Thursday 24th 13.00 – 16.00 theory room building 25.3.

Protection of or limits to Family Law as part of Freedom of Religion? Chair: Professor Niels Kærgård, University of Copenhagen

Introduction: Niels Valdemar Vinding, Assistant Professor, Department of Cross Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

Sanna Mustasaari, Dr. Student, University of Helsinki: Freedom of Religion, Rights and Practices in the Family.

Associate Professor, dr. teol. Joshua Sabih, Department of Cross Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen: Jewish family law – Jewishness in a Postmodern Perspective

Research Assistant Professor, Dr. Rubya Mehdi, Department of Cross Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen: Muslim Family Law in Scandinavia

Associate Professor Bjørn Thomassen, ISG/RUC: Public Reason, Religion and the Law

Thursday 24th 16.00 – 16.30: Conference closure: Lisbet Christoffersen, Pamela Slotte, Niels Valdemar Vinding & Emma Svensson

Practical information:

The workshop is organized by Lisbet Christoffersen, Pamela Slotte, Emma Svensson, Niels Valdemar Vinding in collaboration with

Den Danske Religionsmodel, University of Copenhagen: Margit Warburg, Hans Raun Iversen og Niels Kærgård samt Astrid Krabbe Trolle. See further on:


Global Dynamics Secularism Cluster, Roskilde University: Sune Haugbølle, Garbi Schmidt (kun onsdag) og Sune Lægaard (afbud) samt Laura Lindstrøm Nielsen. See further on:

The workshop takes place at Roskilde University, Building 25.1. Train from Copenhagen Central station Wednesday and Thursday morning 08.16 to Trekroner station. See further on:

Workshop venues:

Wednesday 23rd April, 9.00 – 17.30: workshop at Roskilde University, Building 25, room 25.2).
Thursday 24th April, 9.00 – 16.30: workshop at Roskilde University, building 25, Theory room 25.3

The workshop is open to colleagues, students and the public. A mail informing that you will participate in lunches would for practical reasons required. Please inform