Dimensions of Religious Harmony as Constitutional Practice: Beyond State Control

German Law Journal (2019), 20, pp. 966–985 doi:10.1017/glj.2019.78

20 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2019

See all articles by Jaclyn L. Neo

Jaclyn L. Neo

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law; National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS); National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for International Law

Date Written: August 29, 2019

Abstract

Religious harmony is an idea more commonly invoked in Asian countries, many of which are closely associated with non-individualistic or non-liberal approaches to law, ethics, and politics, than in Europe. As a constitutional norm, religious harmony not only directs state action involving the management of religious diversity but also has the potential to legitimate state action. As a result, harmony, including its subspecies of religious harmony, could be and has been criticized for imposing and legitimating an ideology of control over society, particularly over marginalized groups. While this is the case, I argue in this Article that religious harmony can mean many things and can be used in a myriad of ways that go beyond simply as a tool for state control. Religious harmony is not only a legal/constitutional principle, but has also become internalized as a social norm. Its regulating function extends to inter group relations and further grounds group demands on the state, thus imposing state obligations. To draw out the multiple and complex dimensions of religious harmony as a constitutional principle and social norm, I use Singapore, a self-avowed nonliberal communitarian state, as the primary case study in this Article.

Keywords: law and religion; religious diversity; religious harmony; non-liberal; constitutional law

JEL Classification: K00; K10

Suggested Citation

Neo, Jaclyn L, Dimensions of Religious Harmony as Constitutional Practice: Beyond State Control (August 29, 2019). German Law Journal (2019), 20, pp. 966–985 doi:10.1017/glj.2019.78. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3500410

Jaclyn L Neo (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776
Singapore

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS) ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Singapore

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for International Law ( email )

Block B, #02-01
469 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore, 259776
Singapore

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