Rethinking secularism in Europe

Lorenzo Zucca*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Recent terrorist attacks show the extent to which Europe faces a double threat: on one hand fundamentalist religion, on the other negative secularism. France is a paradigmatic example of negative secularism, which attempts to discredit religion altogether. I propose instead that Europe should subscribe to a positive understanding of secularism, which can be understood as a political or as an ethical project. Either way, the point of positive secularism is to distance itself from religion in order to embrace diversity of all types, religious and non-religious. Political secularism relies on the hope of reaching overlapping consensus between religious and non-religious people. Ethical secularism aims instead to protect diversity by promoting the establishment of a marketplace of religions, which acknowledges a public role for religion while regulating it. The marketplace of religions promotes religious pluralism and helps to iron out the different treatments between religions. Ethical secularism aims to be a worldview of worldviews, creating the preconditions for all religious and non-religious people to live well together.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFreedom of Religion, Secularism, and Human Rights
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780198812067
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • ECtHR
  • Ethical secularism
  • Inbuilt biases
  • Marketplace of religions
  • Political secularism
  • Religious pluralism


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