Beyond the separation of church and state:
Explaining the new governance of religious
diversity in Spain

by Mar Griera, Julia Martínez-Ariño and
Gloria García-Romeral

Working Papers WP 14-08
July 2014
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf

Religious affairs have gained prominence in Spanish politics in recent years. Two factors have played a crucial role in raising the profile of religion in the policy agenda: first, the growth of religious diversity due to the rapid influx of immigrants from the global south that has led to the emergence of multiple challenges and controversies concerning the accommodation of religious diversity; second, the effects of the Al-Qaeda attacks on Spanish soil that fostered policymakers’ perception of the need to “do something” to reinforce Muslim newcomers’ loyalty to the host country. In light of these events, the Spanish policy approach has changed considerably in the last years, being the creation of the public foundation Pluralismo y Convivencia in 2004 being the most illustrative case in point. The aim of this paper is to explain the tranfromations in the governance of religious diversity in Spain. Drawing upon qualitative fieldwork done between 2010 and 2013, we argue that three different political logics underlie the developments leading to the current policy outcome: the logic of democratization, the logic of securitisation of Islam and the logic of the Europeanisation of politics. In this paper we explain these transformations by using a sequential combination of three theoretical approaches: a) the church-state relations approach, b) the theory of control and c) the European convergence perspective.

Keywords: Religious diversity, governance, Spain, church-state model, soft-power policies, Catholic Church, religious minorities         

Mar Griera, PhD in Sociology, works as a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain). She is a research associate at ISOR (Investigations in Sociology of Religion) and at the Centre de Sociologie des Religions et d’Éthique Sociale de la Université Marc Bloch (Strasbourg, France).

Julia Martínez-Ariño, PhD in Sociology, is post-doctoral fellow at the Université de Montréal since Janurary 2014. She was post-doctoral fellow at the Max
Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen, Germany) between April and December 2013. She worked as a research associate at ISOR (Investigations in Sociology of Religion) from 2007 to 2013.

Gloria García-Romeral, PhD in Sociology, is currently working as a research
associate at ISOR (Investigations in Sociology of Religion) at the Universitat
Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain).