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Foreword: Laicite in Comparative Perspective

Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, Vol. 49, 2010

St. John's University School of Law Research Paper Series No. 11-002

10 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2011  

Mark L. Movsesian

St. John's University School of Law

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

This essay is the foreword to a conference, "Laïcité in Comparative Perspective," which drew together scholars from Europe and the United States to compare the French model of church-state relations, laïcité, with models that exist in other countries. The essay makes three main points about laïcité. First, it argues that laïcité has multiple meanings that do not always overlap. For example, "legal" laïcité, the principles that derive from legal texts, must be distinguished from "philosophical" or "political" laïcité. Second, it demonstrates that conflicts about laïcité are particularly bitter in the context of public education. Both pro- and anti-religionists view public schools as crucial battlegrounds for shaping future citizens; for both sides, the stakes are very high. Finally, it suggests that the way to understand laïcité – and church-state relations in the United States – is to focus on the historical compromises that give abstract doctrine real-world meaning.

Suggested Citation

Movsesian, Mark L., Foreword: Laicite in Comparative Perspective (2010). Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, Vol. 49, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1783824

Mark L. Movsesian (Contact Author)

St. John's University School of Law ( email )

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United States
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HOME PAGE: http://www.stjohns.edu/academics/graduate/law/faculty/profiles/Movsesian

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