2004
Volume 73, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0165-2346
  • E-ISSN: 2773-1847

Abstract

Abstract

The article deals with Kuyper’s reaction to the French law on the separation between state and church (1905). Kuyper considered this law rather harmful to the Protestants’ interests and blamed the French Protestants for having agreed with this law. His reaction gave rise to a debate with French counterparts that revealed considerable cultural differences between the Dutch and French ways of conceiving the relationship between state and church. The French insisted on religious freedom, Kuyper insisted on the independence of the church. Moreover, the French considered the church as an integral part of the democratic structure of the state, whereas Kuyper considered the church as a sovereign body that represents an autonomous structure. The neutrality of the state is of primordial importance to Kuyper, whereas the French counterpart accepts that the state is neutral when it comes to the churches, but nevertheless has its own morality when it comes to the public domain. The original debate between Kuyper and his French opponents highlights therefore a cultural difference that is still very much present in modern times. The question arises therefore which of the two approaches is the most fruitful in the modern debates about the role of religion in the public sphere.

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