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Do Not Cross the Line: The State Influence on Religious Education

  • Alberta Giorgi (a1) and Pasquale Annicchino (a2)

The issues related to the role of religion in the public education system have been a public topic for a long time, and related debates have been cyclically revived by specific events. In this contribution, we explore the reasons why Italian grassroots actors do not tend to size up the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) jurisprudence and the plurality of juridical regimes dealing with religion and education as windows of opportunity. First, we analyze the intertwinement of different juridical regimes dealing with religion and education, and the national case law on the topic. Then, drawing on original semi-structured interviews, we analyze the indirect effects of the ECtHR case law on the mobilizations and advocacy strategies at the grassroots level around religion and education. Finally, we discuss the research outcomes, outlining how the non-interference of the Court in state-religions regimes may result in the limited impact and effectiveness of the Court's protection of religious freedoms.

Corresponding author
Address correspondents and reprint requests to: Alberta Giorgi, Department of Letters, Philosophy and Communication, University of Bergamo, piazzale S. Agostino 2, Room 2, 24129 Bergamo, Italy. E-mail:; or to: Pasquale Annicchino, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Via Boccaccio 121, I-50133 Firenze, Italy. E-mail:
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The authors wish to thank, for their useful comments and criticisms on earlier versions of this article, Effie Fokas, Dia Anagnostou, and the GRM team, Luca Ozzano, Silvio Ferrari, and Alessandro Ferrari. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement Number 338463 for the GRASSROOTSMOBILISE Research Programme. The article is the result of a joint effort, P. Annicchino wrote Sections 1 and 2, and A. Giorgi wrote Sections 3 and 4, Section 5 is co-authored.

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Politics and Religion
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