This article seeks to construct the basis for an answer to the question why, despite the evidence of a decline in religious observance throughout Europe and (even) in the USA, religion is, perhaps increasingly, a source or a motive or maybe a pretext for social conflict and sharp political rhetoric. The question is often answered in terms of religious freedom construed as the complete separation of religion and the state, as in Hillary Clinton’s astonishing claim, in her Introduction to the US State Department’s 2011 ‘International Religious Freedom Report’, that ‘Religious freedom provides a
cornerstone for every healthy society. It empowers faith-based service

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