Nieuwe aflevering Tijdschrift voor Religie, Recht en Beleid (2016/2) / New Issue, Journal for Religion, Law and Policy

Tijdschrift voor Recht, Religie en Beleid


Hulp gevraagd maar handen af

Auteurs Maurits Berger
Maurits Berger

Religieuze instellingen en de participatiesamenleving

Trefwoorden scheiding van kerk en staat, Participatiemaatschappij, religie, Verzorgingsstaat
Auteurs Drs. Gert-Jan Buitendijk, Prof. dr. Christoph Hübenthal, Prof. dr. Frans Wijsen e.a.
The Dutch policy of the ‘Participation Society’ intends to return many societal responsibilities to civil society. As religious organizations traditionally had undertaken that task, an increase in their participation is expected. However, the separation of state and religion often proves an obstacle. Also, there is quite some scepticism among religious organization regarding the role that a state should have in its caring duties. This contribution contains several insightful and critical articles on this subject: the introduction is by Gert-Jan Buitendijk, director-general with the Ministry of Interior, who is involved in the policy-making process of the Participation Society policy, followed by brief reflections by two scholars of religion and theology, and two representatives of the Islamic and Catholic communities. These contributions were the outcome of a lustrum symposium organized by the Journal for Religion, Law and Policy in november 2015, where academics, policy makers and representatives of religious organizations discussed the effects of the ‘Participation Society’ policies and laws in the Netherlands.
Drs. Gert-Jan Buitendijk
Drs. G-J Buitendijk is vanaf 1 april 2016 directeur-generaal Bestuur en Wonen op het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties, en voordien vanaf 2011 directeur-generaal Bestuur en Koninkrijksrelaties. Hij was van 1992-1995 verbonden aan de Erasmus Universiteit en werkt sinds 1995 bij de rijksoverheid, eerst bij het ministerie van Financiën en vanaf 2006 bij het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties. Van 1998 tot eind 2006 was hij tevens wethouder in Strijen.
Prof. dr. Christoph Hübenthal
Prof. dr. C.W. Hübenthal is hoogleraar Systematische theologie aan de Faculteit der Filosofie, Theologie en Religiewetenschappen van de Radboud Universiteit. Hij studeerde theologie, filosofie en sportwetenschap aan de Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen en promoveerde daar ook.
Prof. dr. Frans Wijsen
Prof. dr. Wijsen is hoofd van de afdeling Empirische en praktische religiewetenschap en vice-decaan aan de Faculteit der Filosofie, Theologie en Religiewetenschappen van de Radboud Universiteit.
Drs. Marianne Vorthoren
Drs. M.H. Vorthoren is sinds 2001 werkzaam bij Stichting Platform Islamitische Organisaties Rijnmond (SPIOR), de regionale koepelorganisatie van moskeeën en sociaal-culturele islamitische organisaties, sinds 2012 als directeur. Daarnaast is ze voorzitter van de Stichting Veelkleurige Religies Rotterdam, van waaruit verschillende praktische activiteiten voor interreligieuze ontmoeting worden georganiseerd, met name bezoeken aan de diversiteit van gebedshuizen in Rotterdam.
Dr. Erik Sengers
Dr. E. Sengers is godsdienstsocioloog en theoloog, en werkt als stafmedewerker voor de Dienst Caritas van het bisdom Haarlem-Amsterdam. Sengers is docent in het hoger onderwijs en publicist over vraagstukken betreffende religie en samenleving/caritaswetenschap/christelijke sociale leer. Eerder was hij voorzitter van de WMO Adviesraad in het stadsdeel Amsterdam-Zuidoost.

Nederland en kinderhuwelijken

Trefwoorden kinderhuwelijken, informele huwelijken, religieuze huwelijken, gedwongen huwelijken
Auteurs Prof. dr. Susan Rutten
Current developments and recent research findings reveal that the Netherlands have to cope with the existence of child marriages. In this article it will be examined whether the modifications that were introduced by the Dutch marriage law that entered into force at the end of 2015, can be expected to contribute to the improvement of issues on child marriages.
Prof. dr. Susan Rutten
Prof. dr. S.W.E. Rutten is bijzonder hoogleraar Islamitisch familierecht in een Europese context aan de Universiteit Maastricht.

Een kerk spreekt zich uit over de democratische rechtsstaat

Trefwoorden democratische rechtsstaat, kerk/religie, godsdienstvrijheid,, publiek domein, Verlichting
Auteurs Prof. dr. Leo Koffeman
This article presents a summary of a report of the (mainline) Protestant Church in the Netherlands on democracy and the rule of law (see:, including an evaluation. It starts from the presumption that modern plural society rightly expects religious communities to present their views in this regard explicitly and clearly. The report presents an interpretation of what ‘the separation of church and state’ entails, as well as an analysis of recent developments in the public domain. The church expresses its critical solidarity with the modern state. It points to the risk of democracy turning into a market rather than a forum.
Prof. dr. Leo Koffeman
Prof. dr. L.J. Koffeman is buitengewoon hoogleraar Kerkrecht aan de theologische faculteit van de Universiteit van Stellenbosch (Zuid-Afrika). Hij is sinds september 2015 emeritus hoogleraar Kerkrecht en oecumene van de Protestantse Theologische Universiteit (Amsterdam), en is tevens verbonden aan de theologische faculteit van de Universiteit van Pretoria (Zuid-Afrika).

Paus Benedictus XVI: onvermoed rechtsfilosoof?

Trefwoorden Rechtsfilosofie, paus Benedictus XVI, achtergrondcultuur, Rechtspositivisme
Auteurs Mr. dr. Richard Steenvoorde
During his pontificate pope Benedict XVI held five important speeches on democracy and law. In a new study, edited by Marta Cartabia and Andrea Simonici, it is argued that these speeches constitute a papal legal philosophy on the foundation of law. This book review explores that claim. Did emeritus pope Benedict XVI have a distinctive legal philosophy? May be, but the material covered in the book might not be enough to fully support the status of pope Benedict XVI as a legal philosopher. What is needed is a more integral study that includes other papal statements on the principles of law (for instance to the Roman Rota) on the one hand, and the work of the theologian Joseph cardinal Ratzinger before he became pope Benedict XVI on the other hand.
Mr. dr. Richard Steenvoorde
Mr. dr. R.A.J. Steenvoorde O.P. is lid van de Orde der Predikers (dominicanen) en woont en werkt in Oxford (Blackfriars Hall). Hiervoor was hij onder andere secretaris van het Interkerkelijk Contact in Overheidszaken (CIO) en jurist ad extra voor het Secretariaat van de Rooms Katholieke Kerk in Nederland.

Conservatisme onder Nederlandse evangelische christenen: een hedendaagse ‘religion gap’?

Trefwoorden economisch conservatisme, cultureel conservatisme, orthodoxe christenen, pro life issues
Auteurs Dr. Paul Vermeer, Prof. dr. Peer Scheepers en Drs. Joris Kregting

Affiliated Member, Center for the Study of Political Parties and Representation (CSPPR)


‘The Centre for the Study of Political Parties and Representation aims to serve as an interdisciplinary platform for scholars of Leiden University for research focusing on the historical and contemporary operation and functioning of political parties and political representation, with a particular emphasis on ‘Modern Political Parties in Flux’, i.e. the causes and consequences of the changing nature of political parties as intermediaries between society and the state.

The Centre’s mission is to build on and integrate the considerable knowledge and proficiency housed in the various institutes, to pursue new avenues of interdisciplinary research, to disseminate research findings among the academic community, relevant stakeholders as well as the broader public, and to become a nationally and internationally recognised centre of expertise in the field.

leiden-university-logoIn doing so, we draw upon and build on existing expertise at Leiden University’s Institutes of


  • The Centre hosts several research projects.
  • A joint speaker series in which members of the participating institutes and guest speakers present their work.
  • At least one public event per year, featuring speakers from the participating institutes and external speakers, targeting scholars, students, and the wider non-academic community.
  • PhD seminars for graduate students from participating institutes working on themes related to the Centre’s areas of interest.
  • Grant application seminars for members of the Centre, discussing joint and individual interdisciplinary research proposals for various national and European sources of funding on themes related to the Centre’s areas of interest.
  • Visiting fellowships, independently funded, for prominent scholars working on key themes linked to the Centre.’

Source, and more information:

Participant, ‘Great Transformations: Political Science and the Big Questions of Our Time’, 2016 APSA Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, September 1-4

APSA Federalist

Among the panels I attended were:

‘Is The Federalist Relevant to 21st Century Concerns’, a roundtable inspired by Sanford Levinson’s book An Argument Open to All: Reading the Federalist in the 21st Century (2015), with Ran Hirschl, Sanford Levinson, Kim Lane Scheppele a.o.;

‘1996: A Good Year for Deliberative Theory, 20 Years Later’, with Amy Gutmann a.o.; and

‘Carrese’s “Democracy in Moderation: Montesquieu, Tocqueville, and Liberalism”‘, with Paul O. Carrese, Aurelian Craiutu, a.o.

For more information on the program, see:

Upcoming Speaking Engagement, Journal of Law, Religion & State International Conference: Rule of Law – Religious Perspectives, Bar-Ilan University School of Law, Ramat-Gan, Israel


‘The encounter of religion with the rule of law may generate tension but also mutual inspiration. The rule of law implies law’s supremacy over other normative systems and personal commitments. It also implies that law applies to everyone equally. Religion represents a normative system that may in some areas be different from – and stand in opposition to – state law. Religion may deny the supremacy of state law and pose divine law as supreme instead. It may, alternatively, seek exemptions from state law in those matters where the two conflict.

TOPICS: In this conference we seek to study this tension and discuss the following questions:
– Does religion (in general or a specific religion) accept the rule of state law?
– What are the boundaries (if any) of such acceptance?
– In what cases would religion challenge state law and in what cases would it seek exemptions?
– Can a policy of multiculturalism and of legal pluralism, which give more room to religious freedom, be reconciled with the rule of law or does it undermine it?
– What other policies should states follow in response to these tensions?

Religion may not only compete with state law but also inspire it, which leads us to investigate religion’s various understandings of the rule of law. Here is just one example. The concept of law in the context of the rule of law is ambiguous and open to different interpretations. Some (positivists) understand law as a set of rules fixed by social institutions, and others (natural law advocates) understand law as if it includes fundamental principles of justice and morality. Religions may take a position in that debate and contribute not only to the abstract understanding of law, but also to the identification of those moral principles that are part of law. We therefore also plan to explore the following:
– What is the position of religion with regard to the concept of law and the rule of law?
– Many religions developed partial or comprehensive legal systems of their own. Did religions also develop a concept of rule of law? What is its scope and meaning?
– The concept of rule of law also may be used in theological context as a metaphor to understand the boundaries of divine actions and intervention in the world. Is God constrained by law – and by what kind of law: law of nature, morality?

These and similar questions will be discussed in an international conference that will be held at Bar-Ilan University School of Law, Ramat-Gan, Israel, on November 20-22, 2016.’

Source: More information will follow.

Paper presentation during conference on ‘Christianity and the Future of our Societies’, 15-19 August 2016, Leuven, Belgium


The conference was organized by the Association of Reformational Philosophy (ARP) in cooperation with the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit of Leuven (ETF): ‘ARP and ETF welcome contributions from philosophers and theologians as well as from scholars in other disciplines who are seriously engaged in dialogue between Christianity and key figures (or central insights or paradigms) within their own discipline and context, wherever in the world this may be.

The Association of Reformational Philosophy (ARP) has its roots in the 16th century Reformation and its direct origin in the 19th neo-Calvinist revival (in which Abraham Kuyper was a pivotal figure). One of the goals of the ARP is ‘to contribute to the deepening of philosophical insight in created reality, and to make these insights fruitful for academic studies and for society’. Key founding fathers of the movement were the Dutch philosophers Herman Dooyeweerd and Dirk Vollenhoven. The movement has grown, and is today globally engaged in academic dialogue between Christianity and the contemporary world, and its animating intellectual, political and economic ideas and leaders. It does so in the expectation that Christianity has important and timely insights to offer.

The Evangelische Theologische Faculteit (ETF) in Leuven, Belgium, has developed into an important European education and research center for Christian theology that seeks relevance to the contemporary world and its concerns. In ETF’s international master’s and doctoral program, students and professors from a wide variety of cultural and denominational backgrounds come from all over the world to engage in stimulating dialogue.

This conference is co-organized with the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies (WMCES); the political foundation and official think tank of the European People’s Party. And the Christian Political Foundation for Europe (CPFE); the political foundation for the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).’

For information on the program, see:

My own contribution was entitled: ‘Christianity and the Future of Religious Freedom’. The abstract reads as follows:

The central point a forthcoming dissertation on the legal conception of ‘religion’ aims to make, is that the concept of religion employed by courts in the West is not as ‘transhistorical and transcultural’ as is sometimes tacitly assumed but instead is heavily influenced by Christianity in general and Protestantism in particular. As a result, the protection the right to freedom of religion or belief currently provides to, for example, Islam and Judaism is too limited.

I do not consider the thesis that the right to freedom of religion or belief may have a strong relationship to in particular the Christian heritage in itself to be very surprising. It would, to the contrary, be quite a sensation to somehow discover that the legal conception of religion in the West had not been influenced by Christianity.Whether the arguably more particularly Protestant influence is as strong as the author assumes, is a different matter. It could well be argued that definitions employed in this manuscript and other recent literature on the topic, such as ‘the view that religion denotes a sphere of life separate and distinct from all others, and that this sphere is largely private and not public, voluntary and not compulsory’, represent the very opposite of what Protestantism has historically stood for.

The proposed paper will argue that, to the contrary, Christianity in general, and Protestantism in particular, have eventually given rise to a generous interpretation of the right to freedom of religion or belief. Such a generous interpretation suggests first of all that, because spirituality is the keystone of human identity, this right occupies a special place in the universe of rights. Secondly, it implies that religious belief cannot be separated from religious practice. Thirdly, the right to freedom of religion or belief applies to all religions and also to people who do not adhere to a particular religion. Fourthly, the associational and institutional dimensions of the right are important, not just with respect to religious organizations, but also with respect to civil society organizations more generally. A fifth element of a generous religious freedom conception holds that, although not sacred or inviolable, the bar to interference regarding the family as the fundamental social unit is relatively high. The sixth element is that human dignity can well serve as the underlying foundation of the right, as it can be subscribed to by different religious and other traditions. A seventh and final element is that equality does not necessarily imply identical treatment.

A generous approach to the right to freedom of religion or belief does not so much imply maximal but rather optimal religious freedom. Although the limits to the right can to a certain extent differ from place to place, and from time to time, they have historically by and large been determined by the same universal, transcendent truths which also sustain constitutional democracy more generally. This can be regarded as a major – though not exclusive – potential contribution of Christianity also to the future of Western and indeed world civilization.

Key bibliographical sources:
Cohen, Jean L. & Cécile Laborde (eds.) (2015) Religion, Secularism, and Constitutional Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press).

DeGirolami, Marc O. (2013), The Tragedy of Religious Freedom (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

Petty, Aaron R. (forthcoming, 2016), The Legal Conception of ‘Religion’.

Spencer, Nick (2014), How to Think about Religious Freedom (London: Theos).

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, Peter G. Danchin (eds.) (2015), Politics of Religious Freedom (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).

Introduction to volume ‘The Powers That Be. Rethinking the Separation of Powers’ now available online



‘The idea of the separation of powers has been subjected to criticism and competition ever since it first came to be during the upheaval of the English Civil War. In recent years the case has once again been stated that the idea of the separation of powers has lost its significance in a globalised world, with a power constellation in which the distinctions between different types of “powers” have blurred and even so-called constituted power holders have become more and more diffuse. Yet even its fiercest opponents cannot deny that the idea of the separation of powers as a theory of government has, in the words of M.J.C. Vile, “in modern times, been the most significant, both intellectually and in terms of its influence upon institutional structures”.

The idea of the separation of powers reached its zenith in the United States and France in the late 19th century. In the two centuries that separate us from this zenith, the doctrine has suffered almost endless criticism, but endured nonetheless. The tenacity of the idea of the separation of powers is partly due to the fact that it is still widely held to be a procedural and institutional prerequisite for providing the state and its laws with legitimacy. It was, and is, considered by many a guarantor of liberty, in the absence of which power cannot be legitimately exercised.

However, both democratic legitimacy and the separation of powers as concepts have very much evolved alongside the state and over the last decades the state has been giving up ground to other power holders. This brings up the question of whether the combination of these concepts is still viable outside a traditional state context, and if so, in what form? This is the central question the current volume seeks to answer.’

See for the full text:

See for order information:;

Lid, promotiecommissie, D. van der Blom, ‘De verhouding van staat en religie in een veranderende Nederlandse samenleving’, 6 juli 2016


‘Door sterk gewijzigde maatschappelijke ontwikkelingen is voor de verhouding van staat en religie in Nederland de laatste decennia meer publieke belangstelling ontstaan dan ooit kon worden voorzien. Daarnaast is deze belangstelling langzamerhand een vraagstuk geworden die belangrijk is voor zowel de Nederlandse samenleving als andere Europese natiestaten.’

Lees hier meer:

Ph.D. Thesis Committee Member For: D. van der Blom, The Relationship between State and Religion in a Changing Dutch Society

In recent decades, the Netherlands’ struggle with multiculturalism has caused an upsurge in public interest in the relationship between state and religion. In this, the Dutch address a subject relevant not just to them, but to all of Europe.’

Read more here:


Upcoming Speaking Engagement, Seventh International Conference on Religion & Spirituality in Society, 17-18 April 2017, Imperial College London, London, UK


‘The Religion and Spirituality in Society knowledge community sets out in its conference, journal, book series and online community, to describe, analyze and interpret the role of religion in society. The community’s intellectual project is neutral with respect to the agendas of particular religions or explicit counterpoints to religion such as agnosticism or atheism.’

‘The Seventh International Conference on Religion & Spirituality in Society features research addressing the following annual themes and the 2017 Special Focus.


Source, and more information:

My own contribution is entitled ‘The Significance of Institutional Religious Freedom for Liberal Democracy’:

Questions surrounding the institutional dimension of religious freedom are among the most fundamental of our time. The reason for this is that they raise important issues regarding liberal democracy as such. As Jean L. Cohen pointed out, one of the reasons for this is because institutional religious freedom puts the sovereignty of the state, which has already eroded externally, also under pressure internally. As a result, the topic of institutional religious freedom is not just relevant to specialists in the right to freedom of religion or belief, or even human rights for that matter, but also from a more general religious studies point of view. Cohen considers it problematic that state sovereignty comes under pressure from communal religious freedom, because this constitutes a return to Medieval times. According to her, the idea of liberal democracy rests upon a monistic sovereignty conception. Although this is certainly a legitimate proposition, and probably the current dominant one, the proposed paper will argue in favour of a more inclusive conception of liberal democracy. According to this conception, within liberal democracy there is also room for those who adhere to a jurisdictional approach to religious freedom, i.e. recognise multiple sovereignties in a liberal democracy.


Participant, 2016 ICON∙S Conference on ‘Borders, Otherness and Public Law’


This weekend I am attending the annual conference of the International Society of Public Law in Berlin, Germany.

You can check out the program here:

The first panel was entitled ‘The Rule of Law in Europe: Structural Weaknesses in the European Legal Order’:

‘Among europe’s many crises, the “rule of law” crisis is perhaps the most destructive of europe’s common values. some Member states that met the copenhagen criteria to enter the EU would now not be admitted to the EU under those same criteria. what can european institutions do to renew commitments on the part of the Member states to these values?

The above picture was taken during the presentation by Kim Lane Scheppele (Princeton).

See for blogposts on earlier ICON-S conferences:; and

Blogpost ‘On the Close Connection between Religious Freedom and Liberal Democracy’


The individual dimension of religious freedom constitutes a foundation for the institutional dimension of the same right. Institutional religious autonomy is, in turn, foundational for the notion of limited government and as such for liberal democracy.

Read more here: