The RELIGARE project is a three-year European research project funded by the European Commission Directorate General Research - Unit L Science, Economy and Society. It comprises 13 universities and research centres from across the European Union and Turkey. RELIGARE is about religions, belonging, beliefs and secularism. This new socio-legal European project investigates the diversity of convictions in contemporary Europe with a focus on law and on questions relating to management of pluralism under State Law.
Secular State is an important constitutional principle in many European States and in Turkey. However, modulations of this principle differ to a large extent. Today, European societies are being challenged by a new diversity of religions and other beliefs. This diversity has been brought about by many factors, including the European Union’s expansion and important migration fluxes. The result is that many people now hold beliefs and values that were unknown before and/or that are different from historically protected religions or convictions. Not surprisingly, these persons are seeking recognition of their identities. By doing so, they test the boundaries, in practice, of secular State law.
The divide between the public and the private spheres lies at the core of RELIGARE’s research. However, this borderline is not clear-cut and is not at the same place in everyone’s perception. Can the public sphere be simultaneously neutral and tolerant? Can new world views, social patterns and lifestyles be accommodated and/or incorporated in the public sphere? How respectful is the law of the private sphere?
RELIGARE examines the current realities, including the legal rules protecting or limiting (constraining) the experiences of religious or other belief-based communities. Where the practices of communities or individuals do not conform to State law requirements, or where communities turn to their own legal regimes or tribunals, the reasons behind these developments need to be understood. The purpose of RELIGARE is to explore adequate policy responses. Adequate policies seek meeting points between the realities and expectations of communities and the protection of human rights in terms of equality and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.