Ronan McCrae, Religion in the Public Order of the European Union, New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, 294 pp, hb £50.00.

AuthorAlexandra Pimor
Date01 November 2011
Published date01 November 2011
Ronan McCrae, Religion in the Public Order of the European Union,New
York: Oxford University Press, 2010, 294 pp, hb £50.00.
‘Grant that your Church soon honour Robert Schuman, disciple and imitator of
Jesus Christ. Let him be a model for lawmakers and those who govern, so that
they also may become servants of their own peoples and work for justice between
nations.’ This extract from a prayer for the beatification of Robert Schuman, one
of the founding fathers of the European Union, and offered in the running to the
European Parliament elections in June 2009 perfectly illustrates the complex and
surprising relationship between religion and the EU beyond the secularist lens
and the usual sensationalist media reports on religion-related debates and con-
trover sies across Europe.
Although the beatification process is being stalled by the lack of a miracle
occurring as a result of prayers to Schuman, McCrae’s monograph is a little
wonder in its own right, a much needed and ver y welcome addition to the
growing body of work on law and religion, now enhanced by a distinctly EU
dimension. Inspired by his AHRC-funded doctoral thesis at the London School
of Economics, Religion and the Public Order of the European Union effectively
answers a mute plea to widen the scope of law and religion studies and introduces
a new perspective focusing on the EU itself, which offers a captivating narrative
of the place of religion in the EU public order, and addresses both its identity-
building potential and its interaction with EU law and politics.
Europe is generally described as a secular entity, thus the title of this mono-
graph may raise a few eyebrows by seeming to intimate that religion has an
established status within the public order of the EU. However, the book is not
about religion in the EU but religion and the EU public order. Although religion
might play a part in the conduct of EU public affairs, questions remain as to the
nature of the former’s contribution and association with the latter. Indeed, the
broader focus on the public order of the EU epitomises the arguably tenuous
connection between religion and the EU legal order, and widens the scope of
discussion by classifying the means by which religion interacts with and influ-
ences EU affairs, and by delineating the parameters of its involvement, impact and
visibility in the European public sphere.This ambitious book is therefore the
first of its kind as it goes beyond the national and comparative vantage-point
to address the issue from within the Union edifice, and provides a markedly
EU-centred rationalisation of the religion/EU relationship. By considering the
interaction between seemingly competing interests such as religion, individual
autonomy and the state,this or iginal study adopts a sweeping line of investigation
which demonstrates how the relationship both informs the development of
shared values and is also acknowledged as a valid foundation in the decision-
making process of the Union legal order.Finally, it outlines the principles which
govern the interaction between law, politics and religion, and indicates that the
© 2011The Authors.The Modern Law Review © 2011 The Modern Law Review Limited.(2011) 74(6) MLR 974–989
Published by BlackwellPublishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX42DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden,MA 02148, USA

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