Guarding the Perimeter: Militant Democracy and Religious Freedom in Europe
30 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2010 Last revised: 19 Nov 2010
Date Written: August 17, 2010
This essay tracks the concept of militant democracy in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, where it has migrated from a principle that authorizes a state to act in a militant manner to preserve democratic processes to one that entitles a state to establish perimeters and guard against threats of a different kind. Militant democracy now authorizes a state to assume a militant stance toward the exercise of religious freedom that threatens substantive conceptions of democracy instantiated in its constitutional order. The essay identifies four substantive conceptions of democracy – liberal democracy, secular democracy, republican democracy, and conservative democracy – to which militant democracy has migrated in recent years. It argues that militant democracy’s migration signals an ominous shift in the way in which the European Court of Human Rights comprehends the relationship between religion and state power.
Keywords: militant democracy, freedom of religion, European Convention on Human Rights
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