The authority of the German religious constitution: public law, philosophy, and democracy

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The present religious constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany is the product of protracted historical conflicts and political settlements that began in the sixteenth century. The mediation of these conflicts and settlements and the piecemeal establishment of the constitution was the achievement of imperial public law and diplomacy. Germany’s religious constitution—a secular and relativistic juridical framework protecting a plurality of confessional religions—pre-dated liberalism and democracy, and owes nothing to normative philosophical constructions of individual freedoms and rights, or social justice and moral community. Rather, it was the product of a political compromise between warring confessional blocs, and of the institutions of public law that were the instruments and effects of this compromise.
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