The article explores the relationship between religious pluralism and national-majoritarian models of social cohesion in European human rights jurisprudence. Comparing the German, French and British interpretation of the ‘social cohesion limitation’ of freedom of religion it contends that, at the national level, concerns for social cohesion are fuelled by attitudes towards religious diversity that range from indifference to intolerance and that are difficult to reconcile with the normative premises of religious pluralism in a democratic society. The second section of the article traces the relationship between religious pluralism and social cohesion in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The analysis suggests that the diversity of national-majoritarian approaches to social cohesion in Europe prevents the Court from ensuring an effective trans-national protection of religious pluralism. The third section turns to the controversial Lautsi judgments of the European Court of Human Rights to place the Court’s approach to religious minority protection in the context of trans-national judicial politics in the European legal space. The concluding section suggests an alternative approach to religious pluralism and social cohesion that vindicates religious diversity and does justice to the counter-majoritarian telos of human rights protection.
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