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.
Four specific research fileds:
The RELIGARE investigations will focus on four specific research fields in which to test, by way of case studies, the overall objectives. A separate team has been created for each of these four topics. They are:
• The Family, dealing with the issue of religious marriages and divorces, as well as custody over children and the adoption of children when religious and formal legal prescriptions clash;
• The Work Place, covering issues around access to the labour market and labour relations and the accomodation afforded to practices and needs based on religions or beliefs;
• The Public Space, concentrating on religious and other symbols in the public space and on the fundamental questions of ownership of and access to the public space. It will consider places of worship and sacred sites, religious dress codes, and private (religious) schools;
• State Support, analysing State support to religious and secular groups.The methods in which the State finances places of worship and sacred sites will be investigated.
These four topics have been selected since they permit an examination of the concrete cases that are particularly pertinent. They can show, by way of practical examples, where the hotspots are.
The teams created for the specific research fields will examine the concrete cases, review the literature for their own topics and will elaborate comparative analysis of the findings.
The research activities carried out in these four teams will also be coordinated by a separate team, dealing with the Theoretical Framework of the project, which will systematically and over the three years, take care that there are no overlaps and gaps in the work and at the same time will ensure interaction between the four thematic teams. For this purpose, it will also work closely with a team of sociologists, so as to ensure the coordination between the legal and sociological research. This team will therefore be responsible for the scientific coordination of the project.
The team in charge of the Communication and Dissemination will make the results of the research available at the national and European level and it will make sure that outputs of the project reach the relevant actors. Communication and Dissemination will take place throughout the duration of the project.
Finally, the team responsible for the Management of the project will take care of the coordination of the project and will ensure regular contact between the partners and the members of the Advisory Board during the course of the project.