State Legitimacy and Religious Accommodation: The Case of Sacred Places

Journal of Law, Religion and State (forthcoming)
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In this paper we put forward a realist account of the problem of the accommodation of conflicting claims over sacred places. Our argument takes its cue from the empirical finding that modern, Western-style states necessarily mould religion into shapes that are compatible with state rule. So, at least in the context of modern states there is no pre-political morality of religious freedom that states ought to follow when adjudicating claims over sacred spaces. In which case most liberal normative theory on religious accommodation turns out to be wrong headed. As an alternative, we suggest the question of contested sacred places should be settled with reference to the state’s purposes—at least as long as one is committed to the existence of modern states. If one finds the state’s treatment of religion unsatisfactory, then our argument provides a pro tanto reason for seeking alternative forms of political organisation.

Author Profiles

Enzo Rossi
University of Amsterdam
Janosch Prinz
University of East Anglia


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