Atheism in judicial discourse

An analysis of the Italian constitutional scenario


  • Adelaide Madera



Nonreligion, Italy, ECHR, Article 17 TFEU, Atheism


Starting from an analysis of the Italian model of church-state relationships, the present paper focuses on the status of atheistic convictions in Italy. Since the 1990s, where the Union of Atheist and Rationalist Agnostics claimed its right to start negotiations to enter into an agreement with the State, Italian courts have faced the crucial issue of the legal definition of a religious denomination. The decision of the Constitutional Court no. 52/2016 has been the final result of a lengthy and troubled process. The paper will explore the coherence of the decision with the Italian Constitutional framework, with the ECHR and with article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Finally, the paper will investigate on the option of enforcing an updated law regulating religious freedom and its predictable impact on non-religious communities.

Author Biography

Adelaide Madera

Adelaide Madera (Ph.D., University of Perugia) is a Professor of Canon Law and Law and Religion at the University of Messina, Italy.