The next ECPR General Conference will take place in Bordeaux, France, 4-7 September, 2013. The Religion and Politics SG is organising a section of six panels. The title of the section is: Regulating Private and Public: Between Religion and Secularism. The section is co-chaired by Guy Ben Porat (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) and Jeffrey Haynes (London Metropolitan University).

Section theme:

Panels in this section will examine, theoretically and comparatively: the role of religion in public and private lives, regulation of religion by states, and religioussecular struggles over rights and obligations. The modern state has taken control from religious institutions not only the regulation of education and welfare but also services like marriage and burial. Secularisation has implied a new division of labour between political and religious authorities, where the modern state has official authority while religion provides moral guidance for individuals and, in some cases, legitimacy for the political system. Consequently, in many modern and seemingly secular states religion has different roles in private and public lives and different divisions of labour between religious institutions and the state exist.

Differing arrangements face different challenges, either by traditional, or religious, proponents that reclaim the definition of the common good, or by those that find the common good too close to religion. Specifically, some religious actors believe that modern, western individualism is contrary to the common good, while some secular actors believe that individual choice must be expanded. Consequently, questions like the recognition of gay marriage, abortion, polygamy and religious slaughter of animals are often politically salient as states contend with conflicting demands of groups unsatisfied with existing rules or fighting against change. In many democracies, therefore, previous agreements are being re-negotiated between religious and secular actors.

This section seeks to engage with both regulation of and competition in private and public life involving both religious and secular authorities. The specific questions include: How do various societies, in Europe and elsewhere, deal with these new and unexpected demands? To what extent is it possible for either the state or religious authorities to regulate private lives? In this regard, which models of accommodation have been successful unsuccessful?

Details of the individual panels that make up the section are located at:

The SG will hold its next meeting at the conference; details to follow. Jeffrey Haynes has chaired the SG since its inception in February 2006. It is now time, perhaps, to have an elected executive for the SG, with members electing the chair and other posts, including membership coordination, information dissemination, events, etc.

This issue will be discussed in Bordeaux, and a decision made about the future organisational structure of the SG. Please make every effort to attend the meeting.