Lift High the Cross? Contrasting the New European and American Cases on Religious Symbols on Government Property

40 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2015 Last revised: 11 Aug 2019

See all articles by John Witte

John Witte

Emory University School of Law

Nina-Louisa Arold Lorenz

Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

This Article shows that the European Court of Human Rights case of Lautsi v. Italy, upholding the display of a crucifix in an Italian state school classroom, compares favourably to recent United States Supreme Court cases that have upheld the display of crosses and Decalogues on public property. Both the European Court and the Supreme Court now grant greater deference to longstanding public displays of religion, to local decision-making about which religious symbols to maintain, and to the social utility and value of having public displays of religion in a pluralistic democratic society. Moreover, they have come to hold that protection of religious freedom does not require the secularization of society, but protection against coerced participation in or support for religion.

Keywords: Religious Symbols in Public Life; First Amendment; Establishment Clause; Lautsi v. Italy; European Court of Human Rights; United States Supreme Court; Crosses; Crucifixes; Decalogues; Passage of Time

Suggested Citation

Witte, John and Arold Lorenz, Nina-Louisa, Lift High the Cross? Contrasting the New European and American Cases on Religious Symbols on Government Property (2011). Emory International Law Review, Vol. 25, No. 5, 2011, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-379, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2705584

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
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Nina-Louisa Arold Lorenz

Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law ( email )

Lund
Sweden

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