BYU Law Review


The case of Lautsi v. Italy, better known as the “Crucifix Case,” is a particularly significant case. Its significance is not only political and legal, but also religious. Never before in the history of the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe has a case raised so much public attention and debate. The debate regarding the legitimacy of the symbol of Christ’s presence in Italian schools is emblematic of the cultural crisis in Western Europe regarding religion. Twenty-one State parties to the European Convention on Human Rights, in an unprecedented move, joined Italy to reassert the legitimacy of the public display of Christian symbols in European society. The Court finally recognized, in substance, that in countries of Christian tradition, Christianity enjoys a special social legitimacy that distinguishes it from other philosophical and religious belief systems. In other words, because Italy is a country of Christian tradition, Christian symbols may legitimately enjoy greater visibility in Italian society than other religious or ideological symbols.


© 2012 J. Reuben Clark Law School

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