Insiders or Outsiders? Religion(s), State(s) and Society Propositions for Europe Part I

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Considerable challenges arise from the interface between the religious communities and traditions of Europe, and the states and societies within which these religions are set. All the signs are that these challenges are likely to intensify in the present Millennium. These signs underline the need for concerted analysis, planning and action by all the peoples and institutions of Europe.

In considering the multi-layered complexity of these challenges, this paper offers seven propositions or theses that are the product of the author's personal, religious, academic, and professional engagements over the past twenty years or so. These propositions are informed by scholarly empirical and theoretical work but the format of their presentation is not one that claims to present a systematic, detailed, balanced and objective summary of the issues facing religion(s), state(s) and society in Europe.

If the tradition of the academic as 'public intellectual' has something positive to offer then, at least on occasion, it is important for academics to come off the fence of description and analysis and to enter the currents of history by taking up critically informed, but nevertheless committed positions in relation to public life. In so doing, it is sometimes also necessary to paint on a broad canvas, even when one is aware of considerable variations and exceptions in the fine points of detail. This paper thus stands back from the detailed histories and variations that undoubtedly exist within Europe, and seeks to take an overview of its topic in relation to Europe as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-222
Number of pages12
JournalBaptist Quarterly
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is part I of a paper based on the author's Inaugural Lecture of the same title, as Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby, given on 8 November 2000. The second part appears in the following edition of the Baptist Quarterly.

It is based on the development of two previous brief conference presentations: the first of these, on: "Jews and Muslims in Europe: Some Propositions and Questions for European States, Societies and Religions", was originally made to a conference on: "From Xenophobia to Tolerance: Jews and Muslims in Europe", organized by Academic Response to Anti-Semitism and Racism in Europe and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Europe, at France-Amerique, 6 Paris, 28-30 October 1995.

A more generalized form of this presentation, entitled, "Religion(s), State and Society: Theses and Propositions for Europe' was prepared for the Council of Europe Seminar on Religion and the Integration of Migrants held at the 8 Palais de l'Europe, Strasbourg, 24-26 November 1998.


  • Religion
  • State
  • Society
  • Religious pluralism
  • Baptist perspectives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Social Sciences(all)


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