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ABSTRACT. This paper conceptualizes Dutch traditions of religious governance in terms of a model of “principled pluralism” (Monsma and Soper 2009). It approaches church-state traditions in a disaggregate way, meaning it is sensitive to domain specificities and takes notice of the actual constitutional and legal arrangements, (changes in) public policies, and varieties in application of laws and policies. It explores to what extent the legacy of “pillarization” and the relatively strong emphasis on collective freedoms of religious communities may lead to tensions with other liberal values (notably non-discrimination and equality) in contemporary Dutch society. The second part of the paper focuses on the domain of education, in particular contestation around conservative religious schools. It demonstrates in what ways political discussions on organizational and educational freedoms of religious schools with respect to selecting pupils and staff and curriculum exemplify the will to give priority to the principle of non-discrimination. The paper concludes by arguing that the Dutch regime is undergoing a shift in the conceptualization of religious freedom in relation to liberal equality, which in the longer run may destabilize a tradition of toleration and substantial collective freedoms for orthodox and conservative religious groups. pp. 37–63

Keywords: religious governance; Dutch society; associative freedom; “pillarization”

How to cite: Maussen, Marcel (2014), "Religious Governance in the Netherlands: Associative Freedoms and Non-Discrimination after 'Pillarization.' The Example of Faith-Based Schools," Geopolitics, History, and International Relations 6(2): 37–63.

MARCEL MAUSSEN
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University of Amsterdam

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