15th Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Grand

Jérôme Grand

Minimalist Secularism on quicksand

A growing number of scholars have recently argued in favour of treating religious and non-religious groups on an equal basis. This paper presents an internal criticism of this position. If this “minimalist secularism” trend is an interesting revisit of the Western paradigm of secular state, I argue that it is nonetheless insufficient in regards to the indeterminacy of the freedom of association on which it rests. Minimalist secularism would regulate non-religious and religious groups through the classic liberal right of freedom of association, yet there exists no such unique and coherent principle. There are still fundamental disagreements on the fundamental interest that freedom of association serves and on the fair scope of its protection. As a result, the risk is to equalize the treatment between religious and non-religious groups in levelling down the general standard of protection of groups. Chiara Cordelli’s recent argument in favour of a right to democracy within religious associations is, I argue, a good illustration of such risk.