Atheism and the Principle of Secularism in the Italian Constitutional Order

by Francesco Alicino

More diverse and more militant nonreligious groups are contributing to change the socio-cultural landscape of a growing number of constitutional democracies. Many of these groups and their various components (hard and soft atheists, agnostics, rationalists, humanists, secularists) are claiming to enjoy the protection of religious freedom, while straightforwardly denouncing the legal tendencies that give traditional confessions distinct privileges against generally applicable laws. This also raises several questions about when, where, and how groups of atheists should engage with religious issues and the legal degree to which such engagement becomes ‘religion-like’. On the other hand, this is even more evident in legal contexts where the model for managing the State-religions relationship and even freedom of religion are characterized by overt or implicit endorsements towards traditional confessions that, as such, enjoy special protected legal status. One of the most preeminent examples of that is given by the Italian association of atheists (also known as UAAR), who in the last years have launched judicial review proceedings against what they considered the Italian limited secularism. In this manner, nowadays Italian atheism is helping to shed light on the contradictions of the biased pro-religion interpretations of some important constitutional rules, including those related to the supreme principle of secularism.

DOI 10.23815/2421-2156.ITALJ           ISSN 2421-2156

 Read the full article