In 2011, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights decided that crucifixes in Italian public schools were, after all, lawful. One interesting aspect of this case, which is commonly referred to as “the Lautsi-case”, was the fact that a variegated coalition of actors ranging from the strong alliance between the Vatican and the Italian Government to the Russia of the New Orthodoxy as well as to American Conservative Evangelicals had joined efforts against the first, negative decision of the Court. This earlier decision (2009), which had ruled that crucifixes should be removed from classrooms, was perceived by this coalition of conservative actors as an attempt to marginalize religion in the public sphere. The alliance which contributed to turning around the initial decision signals the emergence of a ‘new ecumenism’ in which religious groups of different traditions work together toward common political goals. The lecture will investigate this trend comparing different judgments from the European Court of Human Rights and the United States Supreme Court.
Pasquale Annicchino is Research Fellow at the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute Florence (research-project ReligioWest).