The Liberal Bind: The Conflict between Women's Rights and Patriarchal Religion in the Liberal State
Social Theory and Practice, Vol. 31, No. 2, p. 191, April 2005
39 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2007
Surveying the relationship between religion and the state in the US and in European liberal democracies the article distinguishes between five different facets of the relationship between religion and the state in liberal democracies - institutional differentiation between religion and the state, strong protection of religious liberty, the involvement of religion in politics, the extent of religious involvement in education and social services, and the levels of religious belief of individuals in society - and discusses how each of them affects women's right to equality. The article argues that contrary to common assumptions the relationship between patriarchal religion and the state in liberal democracies adversely affects the rights of all women, and that liberal states cannot live up to their commitment to women's equality without significantly changing their relations with patriarchal religions. The article concludes that liberal states need to take proactive steps to minimize the power of patriarchal religion and advance women's right to equality and that such steps are compatible with the liberal commitment to neutrality and toleration.
Keywords: women, equality, church state relations, religion, liberalism
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