Religions, law and societies in Europe

lsrel2230  2022-2023  Louvain-la-Neuve

Religions, law and societies in Europe
4.00 credits
30.0 h
Main themes
The legal status of religious diversity in Europe. The relationship between religious laws and state laws. The variety and comparison between State regulation of Religions in Europe. Ways to prevent and resolve religious conflicts, both in terms of private ethical questions and of public policy. An interdisciplinary approach through law, political philosophy, theology and sociology of european religious diversity.
Learning outcomes

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 put into perspective the evolution of the modes of State regulation of religions in modern societies.
The course consists of two parts: the first sets out the main conceptual evolutions in European Law addressing religious issues and disputes, belief, conscience, both  personal or collective. The second part goes into detail on chosen issues by the students themselves. One or two foreign guests also are invited about some topical issue.
Part 1 - major paradigms of the current European models and evolution : Church-State relations - human rights - minority rights - 'participative democracy' - right to confidentiality of convictions - 'non-discrimination'  -freedom of worship - freedom of expression -conscientious objections - civil disobedience -  'politics and religion' - recognition - identity - Macro European legal systems: European Union and Council of Europe - Comparative law between State models : Belgium, France, Italy
Part 2 - Questions to be chosen by the students - Each topic is adressed through a legal comparative approach in Europe, with the participation of students - Religion and law: religious neutrality of the state - funding of religions in Europe - Conscientous Objection and reasonable accommodation - religion at work - Autonomy of religion and human rights (privacy, due process) - Religion and School - Religion and health care - Religion and Prison - Harmful cults - religion and family (marriage, divorce, child rearing, circumcision) - Ritual Slaughter - religious Courts and Arbitration - Religion and Health (COVID19 crisis) etc.
At the end of the course, the student will master the main European research tools in "law and religion" and will be able to conduct a documentary research on these subjects.
Teaching methods
The course is given in the classical form ex cathedra. One or two external teachers are invited to present a special question. Different forms of student speaking engagement are provided (eg through student debates on public issues, and/or through active participation in the new Intercultural Observatory in Religious Sciences (UCLouvain)). The attendance of the students is mandatory and the participation is integrated in the final evaluation.
In 2022-23, the course will be given on Friday 1Q 10h45-12h45.
Evaluation methods
Student assignement : Some short papers, among other things about bibliographic research, will be required on specific focuses along the semester. They will be included in the final evaluation for 30% of the final mark. According to their choice, students will be involved in two internet initiatives (the legal observatory of religions in Belgium OJUREL (, or the European Network EUREL ( - on the comparative status of religions in Europe) or the new UCLouvain Intercultu(r)al Observatory in Religious Studies.
For 70% of the final mark: an oral exam, composed of two questions from a list of questions communicated before the session. The evaluation takes into account the student's discipline of origin.
For the September session, a similar written exam will represent 100 % of the final grade.
Other information
Student participation is mandatory and is part of the final evaluation.
Online resources
see the moodle website of this course
Cfr le cours sur moodle
  • ROBBERS, G. (ed.), Etats et Eglises dans l'Union européenne, 2e Edition, Baden Baden, Nomos, 2009 : texte integral en accès libre online :
  • DOE, N., Law and Religion in Europe. A comparative Introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011
  • MASSIGNON, B., RIVA, V., L'Europe, avec ou sans Dieu ?, Paris, Editions de l'Atelier, 2010, 288 pp.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Learning outcomes
Additionnal module in law

Minor in Law (openness)

Master [120] in Sociology

Master [120] in Sciences of Religions

Certificat universitaire en sciences des religions