Religion and the Constitution


  • Awn Shakat Al-Alkasawneh, Former Judge of the ICJ
  • Léna Gannagé, Université de Paris II (Panthéon-Assas), France
  • Raul Pangalangan, University of the Philippines, Philippines

Present day religion squarely poses new and in many respects unique challenges to constitutionalism and its Enlightenment based underpinnings. This phenomenon stems from intense and extensive questioning of the continued viability of traditional notions of secularism both in theory and in practice.

In some settings, the accommodation between religion and secularism becomes unsettled due to the implantation of new religions through large scale immigration. In other settings, constitutional ordering or transformation is squarely confronted with a political revival or reinforcement of religion.

Some of the principal questions that these often rapidly evolving developments raise and that will be addressed in this plenary include:

  • Can constitutionalism and secularism encompass and manage religious pluralism?
  • Can religious pluralism be harmonized at the national or transnational level?
  • Would such pluralism be more amenable to management from below (e.g., religious courts)?

Entirely novel questions arise primarily but not exclusively in non-Western polities (one instance being the wake of the “Arab spring”):

  • What is the proper or optimal place of religion in emerging forms of constitutionalism?
  • Can constitutionalism survive or thrive in a post-secular age?
Published Mar. 21, 2013 10:29 AM - Last modified June 19, 2014 2:53 PM