Review of Jeroen Temperman (Ed.), The Lautsi Papers: Multidisciplinary Reflections on Religious Symbols in the Public School Classroom, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Studies in Religion, Secular Beliefs and Human Rights 11 (2012)
Journal of Contemporary Religion Volume 29, Issue 1, 2014
4 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 15, 2013
At the heart of this edited collection lies one affair: the Lautsi case and one symbol: the crucifix. In sixteen different chapters, the book offers multiple analysis of the challenge raised against the mandatory presence of crucifixes in Italian state schools. The book gives a balanced assessment of the Grand Chamber decision in which the obligatory presence of crucifixes on Italian state school wall classrooms was held not to infringe convention rights. The reliance placed by the Grand Chamber on the concept of margin of appreciation to support its conclusion is met with more or less caution depending on the contributor's view of who (national courts or European Court of Human Rights) should have the last say. This question of the “who” is intimately linked to the substantive question of meaning. What does the symbol of the crucifix mean and is this meaning enough to amount to a violation under the Convention? Again, the answer to the question will depend largely on how the question is phrased. What does the symbol of the crucifix mean and is this meaning enough to amount to a violation under the Convention? This review will note how the questions of the two questions (of competence and substance) are intrinsically linked.
Keywords: Lautsi, margin of appreciation, neutrality, majority religion, indoctrination
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