Law, Religion and Society

Law, Religion and Society
To study Religion in an interdisciplinary logic, in which the legal and extra-legal dimensions are assumed to be ambivalent.



Participating institutions to which the research group belongs:

NOVA School of Law
Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa


Jorge Cláudio de Bacelar Gouveia (Principal Researchers)
José João Gordo Nunes Abrantes
Helena Maria Matias Pereira de Melo
Maria Teresa Couceiro Pizarro Beleza
António Manuel Botelho Hespanha


José Manuel Morais Anes
Francisco Maria Gil Fernandes Pereira Coutinho
Paulo Manuel Pulido Garcia Adragão
Pedro Rebelo Botelho Alfaro Velez

Structure of the research group:

The research group has a plural structure, with specialists carrying differentiated backgrounds, ranging from jurists to sociologists to politologists.

This is a group that intends to study the phenomenon of Religion in an interdisciplinary logic, in which the legal – the laws that regulate religion – and extra-legal dimensions are assumed ambivalent.

It is also intended that this group will maintain working relations with institutions linked to religion, through the signing of protocols that allow joint work to be carried out: Commission of Religious Freedom, the Institute of Public Law.

We will also obtain the contribution of doctoral students who are developing work in the areas of religion and its legal-social regulation.

Objectives of the Research Group:

The present research group, coordinated by a constitutionalist professor, brings together specialists with diverse backgrounds, but who have in common the aim of studying various dimensions of religion, from a simultaneously legal, political and sociological perspective.

Religion is undoubtedly one of those phenomena that best lends itself to an interdisciplinary approach, since it requires a polyhedral study from the point of view of the analysis methodologies that operate its scientific treatment.

It should also be added that Portugal is at the forefront of novelties in Religious Law, given the fact that its recent Law on Religious Freedom – Law no. 16/2001, of 16th June – is acknowledged to be an excellent law and has, moreover, been the object of countless studies by specialists from other countries.

Finally, we cannot forget that Portugal, in terms of Sociology of Religion, has presented an impressive maturity of coexistence in the plan of diverse religious beliefs and practices, with accentuated pluralism of expression, despite there being a majority religious confession, which has also not lacked an important culture of religious tolerance.

For this group, the biannual publication of the Journal of Law and Religion is envisaged, as well as the annual Congress on Law, Religion and Society, and specific thematic symposia (e.g. religion and criminal law and religion and taxation). With regard to interdisciplinary research reports, the following are planned: the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on religion; religion and political ideologies; religion in the decisions of the Portuguese Constitutional Court; religion and the Constitution; religion in party programmes; the legal status of religious minorities; the Law of religious freedom in a Comparative Law perspective; models of the Law of Religion in Portuguese Language Law; origins and religious presuppositions of liberal-democratic constitutionalism; the political-legal concept of laicity; democratic public reason and religion, which boundaries; religion and European legal integration; human rights and religious traditions: convergences and tensions. It is also foreseen to support the teaching of courses at NOVA School of Law, such as constitutional law (undergraduate), fundamental rights – religious freedom (undergraduate) and the specialisation course in Law, Religion and Society (specialisation course).