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)

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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.

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