“Religion never stands above the law”

The relation between the state and faith groups as illustrated in Belgium


  • Geert W. Lorein


Belgium, human rights, European freedom of religion


Regularly, civil authorities in Europe ask religious communities to confirm that “religion never stands above the law.” Some believers would like to respond that the law never stands above the Bible (or Tanakh or Qur’an). However, the relationship between religion and law is more complicated than either of these statements would suggest. This article tries to formulate the relationship in a language that is under- standable for civil authorities, and with a content that reassures them of believers’ peaceful intentions while not betraying religious convictions.

Author Biography

Geert W. Lorein

Dr Geert W. Lorein is president of the Federal Synod of Protestant and Evangelical Churches in Bel- gium and co-president of the Administrative Council of the Protestant and Evangelical Religion. This text does not represent the official position of either body. The paper was read at the conference of the Institute for the Study of the Freedom of Religion or Belief, held at the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, 6-7 May 2021. The author thanks the participants at that conference and the ano- nymous reviewer for their contribution. This article uses British spelling.



2022-03-02 — Updated on 2022-03-03