Religion and Democratic Contestation in Mixed Constitutions

The need for relative or even strict autonomy between state and religion has often been contended to be a necessary condition for democratic government. This position however is tenuous in religious societies where religion is not only an important identity marker but one that animates political and social action. The constitutional system in many such societies therefore tends to be mixed, rather than secular. This means that the constitution accommodates both secular and theocratic aspects of government. Under such conditions of mixed constitutionalism, democratic space is likely to be dominated by strong contestations between secularists and theocrats. While this may be seen as creating a crisis in constitutional democracy, some may argue to the contrary that this is itself a manifestation of a vibrant democracy. This paper examines these positions and proposes that mixed constitutions require a framework of mutuality in order to preserve accommodative constitutional democracy.