Silvio Ferrari
University of Milan

For a Sustainable Conception of the Right to Religious Freedom

Project description:

The legal and political debate on religious liberty shows an increasing division between two groups of scholars. On the one hand, those who think it is impossible to take religious liberty seriously because we cannot produce a  sound notion of religion; and on the other those who consider religious freedom, as it took form in the West, to be a universal principle whose exportation to all regions of the world is the key to the reduction of social conflicts. I would like to explore the possibility of a middle way between these two approaches on the base of the notions  of “embedded evenhandedness” and  “particular universality”. Taken together they can help to avoid both a skeptical/relativistic and a “Western-centered” conception of religious freedom. The research aims to explore this possibility through a comparative analysis of the constitutional models of religious freedom and a more in-depth examination of three controversial issues (apostasy, proselytism, blasphemy) in the legal systems of four countries.


Silvio Ferrari is professor of Law and Religion at the University of Milan. His main fields of interest are law and religion in Europe, comparative law of religions, and the Vatican policy in the Middle East. He is honorary president of ICLARS (International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies) and member of the International Academy of Comparative Law. He is also one of the editors-in-chief of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion. His publications in English include Handbook of Law and Religion (forthcoming with Routledge in 2015) and Religion in Public Spaces, Ashgate 2012 (edited together with S. Pastorelli).