Religion and religious communities
Religion occupies an ambiguous position in public discourse. On one hand, religion is considered threatening by the secular mainstream of Dutch society. On the other hand, politicians and civilians alike appreciate the positive way in which religion and religious communities contribute to social cohesion and the public debate on common values. This ambiguity is placed within the context of a society where participation in organized religion is on the decline. The question is raised of how religious institutions can evolve in a way that allows for more individualized forms of participation, while simultaneously preserving their binding role in society.
It is interesting to take note of how the normative framework of religious institutions adapt relative to developments in the political domain. What is, for example, the extent of freedom among civilians to express their religious beliefs? Other questions can be asked within this context: What does Islam mean to a Muslim living in the Netherlands? How is the perception of ritual obligations, such as the hajj among Muslims, changing under the influence of globalization, individualization and emancipation?