Why Europe needs a more post-liberal theory of religious liberty

Examining a European court ruling on ritual slaughter


  • Hans-Martien ten Napel


Court of Justice of the European Union, institutional religious autonomy, freedom of religion, ritual slaughter, liberal egalitarianism, secularization, intolerance


What is the attitude of European courts toward institutional religious autonomy? Their case law shows a mixed picture, with the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion sometimes weighing less heavily than other interests. One illustrative example is the recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on ritual slaughter. The decision reflects the liberal-egalitarian approach that arguably characterizes European case law. That approach can be traced to a firm belief in ongoing secularization, which can lead to intolerance of religious convictions. The future of institutional religious autonomy in Europe is therefore uncertain.

Author Biography

Hans-Martien ten Napel

Dr Hans-Martien ten Napel (1963) is Associate Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is author of Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).