On a global level, we are witnessing a revitalisation of religion, which also includes a re-politisation of religion, particularly within contemporary Islam. Religion has become, once again, a political topos. The secularised western world is thus facing a new challenge, for which it appears to be inadequately prepared. The idea of freedom of religion, guaranteed as a fundamental right, obliges western democratic states to respect the religious activities of their citizens and to secure their free development. Therefore, the state is principally neither allowed to favour nor to discriminate against certain professions of faith. This concept of equidistance is known as the principle of state neutrality: it commits the state to generally withdraw from religious issues, especially the political act of defining what can legitimately be classified as religion and religious behaviour. The leeway given to the self-conception of religious groups by the German Federal Constitutional Court and its wide understanding of what kind of behaviour has a direct relationship to faith and therefore deserves protection by the freedom of religion, is to be understood against the context of this general principle. However, with regard to the new challenges mentioned above, the neutrality principle increasingly serves yet another purpose. The courts use it as an exit-option in order to avoid addressing problems which appear to be too complex for the law relegating religion to sociological study. In this context, state neutrality merely functions as a chiffre for indifference. But this strategy of avoidance, though understandable in the light of the complexity of religious pluralism, undermines the law's function of conflict resolution. Furthermore, it neither corresponds to the historical development nor to the functional aspects of the idea of religious freedom.