Constitutions typically regulate the relationship between religious and state authorities. They may establish a connection between the state and a particular religion or religions, recognizing a religion or giving its laws or institutions a privileged place in the legal-political system. Others declare the secularity of the state or its neutrality from religions.

International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Primers are designed to assist in-country constitution-building or constitutional-reform processes by helping citizens, political parties, civil society organizations, public officials and members of constituent assemblies make wise constitutional choices. They also provide guidance for staff of intergovernmental organizations and other external actors working to provide well informed, context-relevant support to local decision-makers.

Each Primer is written as an introduction for non-specialist readers, and as a convenient aide-memoire for those with prior knowledge of, or experience with, constitution-building. Arranged thematically around the practical choices faced by constitution-builders, the Primers aim to explain complex constitutional issues in a quick and easy way.

This revised and reformatted edition was published in October 2017.


Publication date
08 August 2014
Dawood Ahmed
Number of pages
978-91-7671-113-2 (Print)


1. Introduction

2. What is the issue?

3. Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom

4. Archetypes of religion–state constitutional relationships

5. Designing the religion–state relationship

6. Additional constitutional design considerations

7. Design tutorial

8. Special considerations for Muslim-majority countries

9. Decision-making questions



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Religion–State Relations

International IDEA Constitution-Building Primer 8
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