related posts

THE RELIGIOUS SECULAR DIVIDE: The US Case / Vol. 76, No. 4 (Winter 2009)

January 1, 2010

 Arien Mack, Editor 

 

Table of Contents 

 

John Clegg

Endangered Scholars Worldwide

Information current, to the best of our knowledge, as of December 10, 2009.

Additional and more recent information about many of these cases, as well as sample letters of protest, may be found on our website or our Facebook pagePlease like us and follow our posts.

 

Arien Mack 

Editor’s Introduction

This issue of Social Research contains papers from the twentieth conference in the Social Research conference series, which began in 1988. The conference, The Religious-Secular Divide: The US Case, was very much the work of any collaborator and former colleague, Jose Casanova, whose work in the area is highly acclaimed.  

 

Part I: Origins of the Secular

 

Noah Feldman
Religion and the Earthly City

The article discusses the history of the concept of the "secular," in contrast to the religious or sacred. Contrasting and overlapping roles posited for religious and secular institutions (church and state) are discussed in the thought of Christian theologian St. Augustine and through the Middle Ages and Reformation to early modern political writers like John Locke and James Madison. The rise of secularism as a distinct ideology in the late 19th century is then discussed, as is the idea of the separation of church and state in the United States up to the election of President Barack Obama.

 

George Kateb
Locke and the Political Origins of Secularism

The article, part of a special issue devoted to religion and secularism, discusses 17th-century English philosopher John Locke and his contributions to the development of secularism, especially in political science. Topics discussed include the concept of the "secular disposition," or the subjecting of religion and theology to the test of nonreligious consequences in a moral society, and how a secular disposition is manifested in Locke's writings pertaining to Christianity, especially its political implications. Locke's works discussed include "Two Treatises of Government," "A Letter Concerning Toleration," "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding," and others.

 

Robert J. Bernstein
The Secular-Religious Divide: Kant's Legacy

The article, part of a special issue devoted to religion and secularism, discusses 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant and the influence of his critical philosophy on the growth of unbelief as a legitimate alternative to belief in God, despite Kant's own Christian faith. Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" is discussed, especially its assertion that knowledge of God, or rational proof of God's existence, is impossible--as is, furthermore, proof of God's nonexistence. Kant is seen as separating morality and religious faith, and providing justifications for both believers and unbelievers.

 

Jose Casanova
The Secular and Secularisms

The article presents a discussion of secularism. It emphasizes distinctions which can be drawn between the related ideas of secular as a category of things which are not sacred, secularization as a cultural trend, and secularism as an ideology. These issues are discussed in the context of the traditions of Western Civilization. The focus of the article is on secularism as a philosophical or normative belief, and the degree to which it can be distinguished from a principle of political science. The sociological phenomena associated with secularism are analyzed along these lines.

 

Part II: Religious Selves, Secular Selves

 

Mark Larrimore
Introduction: Religious Selves, Secular Selves

The modern self understand its autonomy through a constitutive distancing from the world of religion. With Kant, all religion that conjured up by the demands of the moral law was rendered a form of heteronomy. Those who deferred to religious authority, or required religious narratives or incentives to motivate them, were deemed unwilling or unable to be selves. Yet autonomy turns out to be a curious concept. This section introduces a set of articles on the theme of religious and secular selfhood.

 

Adam B. Seligman
Ritual, the Self, and Sincerity

The article presents a discussion of the concept of the self, focusing on the ways in which religious rituals serve to delineate its boundaries. An argument is presented that transcendent mysticism, representing the dissolution of self in union with God, is similar to theories of the self as socially constructed or biologically determined, insofar as all such ideas involve the collapse of the self's capacity for object relations. Religious ritual, by contrast, is described as emphasizing relationships between the self and the social or the divine. Sincerity and the mutable nature of rituals are also discussed.

 

Peter Van Der Veer
Spirituality in Modern Society

The article, part of a special issue devoted to religion and secularism, discusses modern spirituality around the world as a product, along with secularism, of 19th-century developments in Western civilization. A particular focus is spirituality in China and India and the influence of transnational colonial encounters with the West. Specific topics discussed include: the influence of modern science and rationalism on religion, nationalism, and art; and related topics in Eastern religions such as Daoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

 

William E. Connolly
The Human Predicament

The article discusses the concept of the human predicament, defined as a feeling that the conditions of human life are both important and fraught with difficulties. It focuses on religious and secular philosophies regarding such issues. Writings by the authors Adi Shankara, Paul Tillich, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Catherine Keller are analyzed and compared in this context. Tillich and Shankara are described as promoting the doctrine of immanence, that the divine is present in the world. Keller and Nietzsche are discussed in terms of their views on cosmology.

 

Part III: Keynote Address

 

Charles Taylor
The Polysemy of the Secular

The article, part of a special issue devoted to religion and secularism, discusses the historical polysemy, or multiple meanings, of the terms "secular" and "secularization." The history of the "secular" in Latin Christendom, or Europe of the Middle Ages, is discussed as denoting earthly matters, which were nonetheless seen as bound up with heavenly or godly matters, tended to by the Christian Church. The development of the "secular" into a separate and independent sphere of activity in the modern era is then discussed, including the rise of deism and the notion of the separation of church and state as understood in the United States. Variations in the meaning of the secular in non-Western, non-Christian.

 

Part IV: Religion, Politics, and the Democratic State

 

Tariq Modood
Introduction: Odd Ways of Being Secular

The topic of this section is religion and its relation to politics. Some big issues in the United States are abortion, school prayer, creationism versus evolution, and concerns centered around gender and sexuality.

 

John T. Noonan Jr.
The Secular Citadel and the Untended Garden

The article, part of a special issue devoted to religion and secularism, offers answers to the question "What is sacred?" in the United States as a whole, using a sociological definition of religion as the collective myths, symbols, and beliefs of a society that cannot be violated by individuals, and which are therefore protected by the government. Examples given include: taxes, except where the US Congress grants exemptions; the right to conscientious objection to war; provisions for religion in the military through the chaplain corps; and others. US Supreme Court decisions pertaining to such issues are also discussed.

 

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan
We Are All Religious Now. Again.

The article, part of a special issue devoted to religion and secularism, discusses religion and law in the United States, and how the particular US form of separation of church and state evolved from the Constitution through various court cases and laws in the 20th century. The differences between religious life in the US and Europe are discussed, as are US Supreme Court cases such as "Lynch v. Donnelly," "Employment Division v. Smith," and others. Also discussed is the Faith-Based and Community Initiative launched in the 2000s, and other topics.

 

James A. Morone
Jefferson's Rickety Wall: Sacred and Secular in American Politics

The article, part of a special issue devoted to religion and secularism, discusses the principle of separation of church and state in the United States, and ongoing debates about where the line between the two should be drawn. The difference between religious life in the US and other countries is discussed, including the number of religious denominations in the US and the US tradition of evangelicalism. The influence of religion in two policy areas, public health and the criminal justice system, is discussed, and found to animate political actors on both the left and the right. The historical connection between (classical) liberalism and secularism in the United States is discussed as well.

 

Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini
Obama's Neo-New Deal: Religion, Secularism, and Sex in Political Debates Now

The article, part of a special issue devoted to religion and secularism, discusses the place of gender and sexuality in US public debates about religion, secularism, politics, and economics during the administration of US President Barack Obama. Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and his policies as president are examined for his positions on issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, and found to be ambivalent, attempting to embrace religious pluralism while avoiding deeper issues related to gender and sexuality.

 

Part V: Moral Crusades, Then and Now: Religious and Secular

 

Ann Snitow
Introduction: Moral Crusades, Then and Now: Religious and Secular

An introduction is presented to a set of articles on the theme of sociocultural movements which blur the boundaries between the secular and the religious in the US.

 

David L. Chappell
Prophetic Religion: A Transracial Challenge to Modern Democracy

The article, part of a special issue devoted to religion and secularism, discusses "Prophetic religion" in the US civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, with reference to the author's 2004 book "A Stone of Hope." Prophetic Christian civil rights activists are seen as inspiring mass solidarity and self-sacrifice in a way that transcended traditional notions of the divisions between Christianity and secularism. In particular, the differences between Prophetic black leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and the more mainstream black Christian churches are discussed.

 

Susan F. Harding
American Protestant Moralism and the Secular Imagination: From Temperance to the Moral Majority

The article, part of a special issue devoted to religion and secularism, discusses "Prophetic religion" in the US civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, with reference to the author's 2004 book "A Stone of Hope." Prophetic Christian civil rights activists are seen as inspiring mass solidarity and self-sacrifice in a way that transcended traditional notions of the divisions between Christianity and secularism. In particular, the differences between Prophetic black leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and the more mainstream black Christian churches are discussed.

 

James Davison Hunter
The Culture War and the Sacred/Secular Divide: The Problem of Pluralism and Weak Hegemony

The article discusses religion and secularism in the US, focusing on cultural conflicts of the late 20th and early 21st century. These are described in terms of a polarization of the political right and left between conservative evangelical Christians and liberal secularists, respectively. An overview of the history of religious and ethnic pluralism in America is presented in this context. It is argued that much of the hostility between the right and left is due to the disenfranchisement of the evangelical group from its historical position of cultural dominance, together with the advent of secularism as an expanding demographic minority.

 

Part VI: Contemporary Debates: The Future of Religion and The Future of Secularism

 

Jose Casanova
Introduction: The future of religion and the future of secularism

The papers in the first five sections of this issue set the stage for this concluding section by addressing the origins of the secular and engaging the reader in historical debates. The remarks in the concluding section, drawn from a roundtable discussion at the religious-secular divide conference, work forward from the foundation established by the preceding papers. These authors speculate on the future of religion and the future of secularism.  

 

Sheila Greeve Devaney
The Religious-Secular Divide: The U.S Case

The article presents a discussion of secularism and religion in the US, focusing on instances where the boundaries are blurred, and questioning whether these categories are always necessarily opposed. It offers commentary on several other articles, published elsewhere in the same issue, which also address these themes. These include "Religion and the Earthly City" by Noah Feldman, "The Polysemy of the Secular" by Charles Taylor, "The Secular-Religious Divide: Kant's Legacy" by Richard Bernstein, "Spirituality in Modern Society" by Peter van der Veer, and "The Secular and Secularisms" by José Casanova.

 

Michael W. McConnell
Reclaiming the Secular and the Religious: the Primacy of Religious Autonomy

The article, part of a special issue about religion and secularism, discusses the idea of separation of church and state in the United States, taking the position that this doctrine was meant to preserve the autonomy of religion in society, not push it out of public life altogether. The article critiques positions taken elsewhere in the issue by Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor ("The Polysemy of the Secular"), and discusses in detail the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its implications for freedom of religion.

 

Ann Pellegrini
Religion, Secularism and a Democratic Politics of "As If"

Although the conference that launched this special issue posed “the religious” and “the secular” as a “divide” -even, as divided -one of the most striking points of agreement across the many presentations was the need to complicate the terms of the secularization narrative that we have inherited from the Enlightenment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please reload

follow us
search by tags