Daniel Laqua
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Church and state
in The age of internationalism and Belgium, 1880–1930
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The culture wars between Catholics and secularists were at once inter- and transnational: international, because they occurred in many different countries, and transnational, because both camps maintained connections across national borders. In Belgium, such conflicts manifested themselves in the ‘School Wars’ of 1879–84. During the subsequent decades, the relationship between state and church continued to be heavily contested. As a result, the country became a key site for two competing kinds of internationalism: one based on Catholic beliefs, the other underpinned by secular principles. The country was a major hub for political Catholicism and Catholic lay activism, yet it also hosted an international organisation of secularists, the International Freethought Federation.

As a whole, this chapter analyses the conflict between Catholic and secularist internationalism. It discusses their respective associational guises, but also the ways in which they engaged with questions of science, nationhood and social justice.

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