European Religious Freedoms Norms as a Challenge to Orthodox Churches

Effie Fokas

eds. Kristina Stoeckl, Ingeborg Gabriel and Aristotle Papanikolaou, Political Theologies in Orthodox Christianity: Common Challenges – Divergent Positions, (2017) New York: Bloomsbury, 75-96

The emerging European institutional framework for religious freedom forms an important aspect of the political and societal context in which Orthodox Churches must function – regardless of the extent to which the latter are aware of this or accepting of this fact. Though this institutional framework engages states directly and less so churches, because of the close links between the two in majority Orthodox countries, the potential impact for churches is extensive. This contribution explores the European institutional framework for religious freedom, based on particular articles of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as on specific cases in the religious freedom jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and examines the extent to which both the latter impact upon Orthodox churches in any distinct sense.

Available here: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/political-theologies-in-orthodox-christianity-9780567674128/

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Comparative Susceptibility and Differential Effects on the Two European Courts: A Study of Grasstops Mobilizations around Religion

Effie Fokas

Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, 2016, 5(3), 541-574

‘Grasstops mobilizations’ in the context of the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union refers to legal and political mobilization carried out by cause lawyers, NGOs, religious, secularist and humanist organizations, political figures and national governments, and by transnational networks which may develop within and between the above groups, depending on their stakes in a given issue. In the domain of religion, such grasstops mobilizations may seek to influence what religion-related issues get placed on a court’s agenda and the climate within which the Court takes its decisions on the latter; they are forces at the European and transnational levels potentially influencing the Court’s engagements with and ultimate handling of religion-related cases. This article draws on interviews carried out with various actors engaged with or impacted by mobilizations around the European courts to yield special insight into who mobilizes, for what reasons and to what effects, and into the conditions under which particular political, religious, or NGO actors are influential. Based upon the latter research as well as examination of certain structural differences between the two courts rendering them differently ‘open’ to various pressures, this contribution considers the comparative susceptibility of the two courts to such mobilizations.

Download: Fokas – OJLR 2016

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D come Donne, D come Dio (D for Women, D for God)

Eds. Alberta Giorgi and Stefania Palmisano, (2016) Milan: Mimesis

The interest in the theme «Women, Religion, Gender Relations» has gained particular resonance since the mid-90s in Europe and, more recently, even in Italy, developing beyond the disciplinary boundaries of sociology of religion and of gender studies. Three factors have contributed, in particular, to the re-emergence of this interest in the academy and its resonance in the public sphere: migration and the pluralisation of the religious field; the increasing role of controversies around religion-related issues and involving women’s bodies; and the complex negotiation of boundaries between the private and the public sphere. What is the role of women in religion? What are the forms of – and the interconnections between – religious and female agency? What is the role of religion in the public sphere? How religious rights and female rights are discussed in the political debate? What is the impact of the transformations of religion upon the individual religious experiences?

Available here [in Italian]: http://mimesisedizioni.it/libri/d-come-donne-d-come-dio.html

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Religion and local politics in Southern Europe: a research agenda

Alberta Giorgi and Xabier Itçaina

Religion, State and Society, 2016, Vol. 44, No. 3, 276-295

This article brings to a conclusion the series of three special sections published in 2015 and 2016 by Religion, State and Society on ‘Religion and local politics in southern Europe’. We set up a research agenda on the interactions between religion and local politics in Southern Europe. In doing so, we focus on the localisation of religion, including religious debates, and on the impact of the recent economic crisis. More specifically, we address the local as a contested concept, the multilevel governance of religion as a scalar opportunity structure – in relation to the transnational dimension of religious actors – the effects of such changes in the welfare landscape and the impact of the economic crisis on the activities and strategies of religious actors in Southern Europe. Our research agenda focuses on the interactions between two main dimensions: the territorial impact of political and economic changes, and the multiscalar schemes of territorial governance.

Available here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09637494.2016.1212588

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Winning in the Parliament, Losing in the Courts – Catholic Bio-politics in different venues: The Case Of Italy

Alberta Giorgi

Estudos de Religião, 2016, Vol. 30, No. 1, 11-27

The catholic bio-politics, in recent years, addressed a variety of issues. In this contribution I focus specifically on assisted reproduction and stem cell research in order to analyse the Catholic neo-feminist discourse, and the complex interplay of discursive arenas. Namely, I focus the attention on the reconfiguration of religious discourse in terms of attention to feminism and gender rights, on the one side, and discursive opportunity structures in terms of venues’ opportunities and constraints on the other. The analysis underlined two main elements. First of all, in relation to the process of judicialization of politics, the analysis pointed out the different opportunities and constraints characterizing the different venues. Namely, judicialization of politics and venue shopping are not favourable the same way for all the actors. Second, a neo-conservative frame of revolutionary maternity gained large room in the Italian political sphere, and it is likely to gain even more resonance in light of the current debate on surrogacy, related to the never-ending discussion on the forms of regulation of same-sex couples in Italy.

Download: Giorgi – Estudos de Religião 2016

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Directions in Religious Pluralism in Europe: Mobilizations in the Shadow of European Court of Human Rights Religious Freedom Jurisprudence

Effie Fokas

Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, 2015, Vol. 4, No. 1, 54–74

Over the past 20 years the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has evolved into a conspicuous, often contentious, force in the multilevel battles over the place of religion in the European public sphere. In the light of scholarly debates questioning the direct effects of courts on the issues they address, this article explores how the nature and extent of European juridical influence on religious pluralism are better understood through developments taking place ‘in the shadow’ of the Court.

Specifically, what is the aftermath of the Court’s religion jurisprudence in terms of its applications at the grassroots level? And how might legal and political elites operating at the national and international levels influence the Court’s engagement with religion?

These questions are important because ECtHR case law will shape, to a large extent, both local and national case law and—less conspicuously but no less importantly—grassroots-level developments in the promotion of or resistance to religious pluralism, which will, in turn, influence the future of the ECtHR caseload.

Download: Fokas – OJLR 2015

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Sociology at the intersection between law and religion

Effie Fokas

ed. Silvio Ferrari, Routledge Handbook of Law and Religion, (2015) Abingdon: Routledge, 59-74

Intersections between law and religion are increasingly permeating the public sphere. A brief consideration of the ‘controversial issues’ section of the present volume serves as a reminder of religion-related issues regulated by laws, on the one hand, and mobilising mass publics – religious and secular alike – on the other. In all these cases at some level we find a disconnect between the workings of the laws and the workings of the societies in which these laws operate. It is at precisely this point that sociology as a discipline can bridge the gap.

Available here: https://www.routledge.com/products/9780415836425

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Banal, Benign or Pernicious? Religion and National Identity from the Perspective of Religious Minorities in Greece

Effie Fokas

New Diversities, 2015, Vol. 17, No. 1, 47-62

Intersections between religion and law are increasingly permeating the public sphere. From burqa bans to same-sex marriage, a strong relationship between religion and national identity (whether ‘negative’, as in the French case, or ‘positive’ as in the Greek case), can often be found as a central factor therein. Based on empirical research conducted on pluralism and religious freedom in Greece and other majority Orthodox countries, this article seeks to locate the religion-national identity link within the grey area at the intersection between religion and law. The voices of religious minority groups illustrate the blurred lines between the benign and the pernicious in banal manifestations of the religion-national identity link in the Greek context. Against the backdrop of the Greek example, the article then navigates through normative debates about whether and how limitations to the freedoms of religious minorities, in cases where these limitations are linked to the relationship between religion and national identity, can be effectively redressed.

Available here: http://newdiversities.mmg.mpg.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015_17-01_04_Fokas.pdf

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Balancing the autonomy of religious institutions with the right to a private and family life? A commentary on Fernández Martínez v. Spain

Panagiota Emmanouilidou

ELIAMEP Briefing Notes, 2014, No. 32

On 12 June 2014, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter the ECtHR or the Court) delivered its final and long-awaited judgment in Fernández Martínez v. Spain. The case concerns the non-renewal of the contract of a religion teacher by the Spanish State, because his personal status, as a married priest, was considered incompatible with the principles of the Catholic Church. Released a few days before another ECtHR judgment on a controversial religion issue, the French burqa ban, the present case raises important questions regarding the balance between two fundamental rights, the right to autonomy of religious institutions and the right to a private and family life of an individual.

Download: Emmanouilidou – ELIAMEP 2014

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