Religions (Sep 2019)

Religious Rights and Involuntary State Institutions in Democratic Countries: On Evenhandedness and Ecumenism in Militaries

  • Nahshon Perez

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 10
p. 556


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Militaries present a difficult challenge for scholars interested in navigating the complex demands of religious liberty and religion-state relations. The reason is that the most familiar features of religion-state relations in liberal countries—governmental non-interference and the structure of religious associations as voluntary associations—are incompatible with the structure of militaries as involuntary organizations that are nonetheless highly important institutions in even liberal-democratic countries. How should scholars accustomed to the liberal framework going back to Locke, hence, theorize the desirable religious-institutional state of affairs within involuntary institutions such as militaries? As the governmental non-interference model is inadequate, the argument to be presented here is that the involuntary nature of militaries presents the liberal-minded theorist, with unusual dilemmas, and hence would make two models most adequate for a religious-institutional state of affairs within militaries: evenhandedness (or multiple establishments) and ecumenism, a somewhat unusual category.