Tag Archives: Religious Pluralism

Lee, “Recognizing the Non-religious: Reimagining the Secular”

This month, Oxford University Press releases “Recognizing the Non-religious: Reimagining the Secular” by Lois Lee (University College London). The publisher’s description follows:

In recent years, the extent to which contemporary societies are secular has come under scrutiny. At the same time, many countries, especially in Europe, have increasingly large nonaffiliate, ‘subjectively secular’ populations, whilst nonreligious cultural movements like the New Atheism and the Sunday Assembly have come to prominence. Making sense of secularity, irreligion, and the relationship between them has therefore emerged as a crucial task for those seeking to understand contemporary societies and the nature of modern life.

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in southeast England, Recognizing the Nonreligious develops a new vocabulary, theory and methodology for thinking about the secular. It distinguishes between separate and incommensurable aspects of so-called secularity as insubstantial – involving merely the absence of religion – and substantial – involving beliefs, ritual practice, and identities that are alternative to religious ones. Recognizing the cultural forms that present themselves as nonreligious therefore opens up new, more egalitarian and more theoretically coherent ways of thinking about people who are ‘not religious’. It is also argued that recognizing the nonreligious allows us to reimagine the secular itself in new and productive ways.

This book is part of a fast-growing area of research that builds upon and contributes to theoretical debates concerning secularization, ‘desecularization’, religious change, postsecularity and postcolonial approaches to religion and secularism. As well as presenting new research, this book gathers insights from the wider studies of nonreligion, atheism, and secularism in order to consolidate a theoretical framework, conceptual foundation and agenda for future research.

“Religious Literacy in Policy and Practice” (Dinham & Francis, eds.)

This month, Policy Press at the University of Bristol released “Religious Literacy in Policy and Practice” edited by Adam Dinham (University of London) and Matthew Francis (Lancaster University). The publisher’s description follows:

It has long been assumed that religion is in decline in the West: however it continues to have an important yet contested role in individual lives and in society at large. Furthermore half a century or so in which religion and belief were barely talked about in public has resulted in a pressing lack of religious literacy, leaving many ill-equipped to engage with religion and belief when they encounter them in daily life – in relationships, law, media, the professions, business and politics, among others. This valuable book is the first to bring together theory and policy with analysis and expertise on practices in key areas of the public realm to explore what religious literacy is, why it is needed and what might be done about it. It makes the case for a public realm which is well equipped to engage with the plurality and pervasiveness of religion and belief, whatever the individual’s own stance. It is aimed at academics, policy-makers and practitioners interested in the policy and practice implications of the continuing presence of religion and belief in the public sphere.

“Christianity and Religious Plurality” (Methuen et al., eds.)

In May, the Ecclesiastical History Society will release “Christianity and Religious Plurality” edited by Charlotte Methuen (University of Glasgow), Andrew Spicer (Oxford Brookes University), and John Wolffe (The Open University). The publisher’s description follows:

This, the fifty-first volume of Studies in Church History, takes as its theme ‘Christianity and Religious Plurality’. The focus is on exploring the practical experience of Christians, who have often existed in a world of manifold belief systems and religious practices. Under the Presidency of Professor John Wolffe, the summer conference and winter volume brought together a fascinating series of lectures and communications, a selection of which are collected in this peer-reviewed volume. Three main areas of engagement emerge: contexts where Christianity was a minority faith, whether in the earliest years of the church, in the Mongol empire of the thirteenth century or under Ottoman rule in the fifteenth, or in contemporary Iraq, Egypt and Indonesia; responses to religious minorities in predominantly Christian societies, such as early-modern Malta or nineteenth- and twentieth-century London; and finally, Christian encounters with other religions in situations where no single tradition was obviously dominant. Offering an unusual perspective on Christian encounters with other faiths, this volume will appeal to students of religious studies and those interested in the cultural contexts in which Christianity has existed – and indeed continues to exist.

Ellethy, “Islam, Context, Pluralism and Democracy: Classical and Modern Interpretations”

In December, Routledge Press released “Islam, Context, Pluralism and Democracy: Classical and Modern Interpretations” by Yaser Ellethy (VU University, Amsterdam). The publisher’s description follows:

Islam, Context, Pluralism and Democracy aspires to clarify the tensions and congruences between the revelational and the rational, the text and the context, the limits and the horizons of contextualization in Islam, as these emanate from the Islamic interpretative tradition.

This book examines classical and modern Muslim interpretations with regard to the concepts of diachronic development, pluralism and democracy based on Arabic-Islamic sources and literature. Focusing on the parameters of semantic changes, methods of interpretation and cultural variables, it shows how this interpretative tradition offers a diversity of ideas and approaches that can be utilized in contemporary debates concerning the socio-political contextualization of Islamic genuine thought. However, within this diversity, Islam presents generic principles and core values as ‘moral paradigms’ that can deal with such modern challenges. Based on the analysis of core Islamic texts and key-terms related to the discussed issues, mainly from the Quran and the Sunnah, and the broader Arabic-Islamic literature, it explores the boundaries of the mutable and constant in the Islamic worldview.

Presenting classical Muslim interpretations and scholars as possible interlocutors in debates over the compatibility of Islam with challenges of modernity, this book is essential reading for researchers and postgraduates interested in Islamic Studies, Philosophy of Religion and Political Science.

Garelli, “Religion Italian Style: Continuities and Changes in a Catholic Country”

This month, Ashgate Publishing releases “Religion Italian Style: Continuities and Changes in a Catholic Country” by Franco Garelli (University of Turin, Italy). The publisher’s description follows:

Italy’s traditional subcultures – Communist, Socialist, Liberal, Republican, Right-wing – have largely dissolved and yet Catholics have retained their vitality and solidity. How can the vast majority of Italians continue to maintain some connection with Catholicism? How much is the Italian situation influenced by the closeness of the Vatican?

Examining the religious condition of contemporary Italy, Religion Italian Style argues that the relationship between religion and society in Italy has unique characteristics when compared with what is happening in other European Catholic Countries. Exploring key topics and religious trends which question how the population feel – from the laity and the role of religions in the public sphere, to moral debates, forms of religious pluralism, and new spiritualities – this book questions how these affect religious life, and how intricately religion is interwoven with the nation’s fabric and the dynamics of the whole society.

“Politics of Religion and Nationalism” (Requejo & Nagel, eds.)

This December, Routledge Press will release “Politics of Religion and Nationalism: Federalism, Consociationalism and Secession” edited by Ferran Requejo and Klaus-Jürgen Nagel (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona).  The publisher’s description follows:

There are numerous examples of how religion and nationalism intertwine. In some cases, a common religion is the fundamental marker of a nation’s identity, whereas in others secular nationalism tries to hold together people of different religious beliefs.

This book examines the link between religion and nationalism in contemporary polities. By exploring case studies on India, Russia, Israel, Canada, Chechnya, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Catalonia and the Basque Country, it seeks to understand the relationship between these two key societal forms of diversity and assess the interaction between religious and nationalist perspectives. Expert contributors examine a variety of phenomena, including secular nationalism, secessionism, and polities in which religious pluralism is evolving.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars of political science, religion and politics, nationalism, federalism, secession, political philosophy, racial and ethnic politics and comparative politics.

Call for Papers: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Religious Pluralism

The ReligioWest Research Project (European University Institute, Florence) and the Religion and Political Theory Centre (University College London) are soliciting papers for a workshop to be held at the European University Institute in Florence on January 19-20, 2015. Submissions should address one of the following topics:

  • The sources of religious pluralism and the justifications for our commitment to religious pluralism
  • The social realities and political problems related to religious pluralism
  • The possibility of limitations and restrictions on religious pluralism in liberal democracies

Please send submissions to kristina.stoeckl@eui.eu by October 25, 2014.  Details regarding possible paper topics can be found here.


Pope Francis’s Remarks on “Social Dialogue in a Context of Religious Freedom”

Pope Francis has issued an Apostolic Exhortation–Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”)–which ranges over many subjects, emphasizing in particular and in many places the obligations of Catholics toward the poor and toward realizing just social, political, and economic arrangements.

In a substantial portion of the Exhortation (beginning at paragraph 182), the Pope discusses the social teaching of the Church and he focuses on two issues: the alleviation of poverty and the Church’s special concern for the poor; and “The Common Good and Peace in Society.” As to the latter, and because they involve issues of religion and public life that we consider here at the Center, here are the Pope’s remarks (footnotes omitted) about the importance of “social dialogue in a context of religious freedom,” which conclude his reflections on the social dimension of the Gospel:

255. The Synod Fathers spoke of the importance of respect for religious freedom, viewed as a fundamental human right. This includes “the freedom to choose the religion which one judges to be true and to manifest one’s beliefs in public” A healthy pluralism, one which genuinely respects differences and values them as such, does not entail privatizing religions in an attempt to reduce them to the quiet obscurity of the individual’s conscience or to relegate them to the enclosed precincts of churches, synagogues or mosques. This would represent, in effect, a new form of discrimination and authoritarianism. The respect due to the agnostic or non-believing minority should not be arbitrarily imposed in a way that silences the convictions of the believing majority or ignores the wealth of religious traditions. In the long run, this would feed resentment rather than tolerance and peace.

256. When considering the effect of religion on public life, one must distinguish the different ways in which it is practiced. Intellectuals and serious journalists frequently descend to crude and superficial generalizations in speaking of the shortcomings of religion, and often prove incapable of realizing that not all believers – or religious leaders – are the same. Some politicians take advantage of this confusion to justify acts of discrimination. At other times, contempt is shown for writings which reflect religious convictions, overlooking the fact that religious classics can prove meaningful in every age; they have an enduring power to open new horizons, to stimulate thought, to expand the mind and the heart. This contempt is due to the myopia of a certain rationalism. Is it reasonable and enlightened to dismiss certain writings simply because they arose in a context of religious belief? These writings include principles which are profoundly humanistic and, albeit tinged with religious symbols and teachings, they have a certain value for reason.

257. As believers, we also feel close to those who do not consider themselves part of any religious tradition, yet sincerely seek the truth, goodness and beauty which we believe have their highest expression and source in God. We consider them as precious allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building peaceful coexistence between peoples and in protecting creation. A special place of encounter is offered by new Areopagi such as the Court of the Gentiles, where “believers and non-believers are able to engage in dialogue about fundamental issues of ethics, art and science, and about the search for transcendence”. This too is a path to peace in our troubled world.

Waggoner (ed.), “Religion in the Public Schools”

This month, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers will publish Religion in the Public Schools: Negotiating the New Commons edited by Michael D. Waggoner (University of Northern Iowa). The publisher’s description follows.Religion in The Public Schools

Since September 11, 2001, the profile of religion’s role in our global society has increased significantly. Religion has long been a force in people’s lives as numerous studies and polls show, yet we continue to struggle with understanding differing religious traditions and what they mean for our common life. There are few places where Americans can meet together to learn about each other and to share in the common construction of our futures. One such place for many is public education.

The purpose of this book is to illustrate the complexity of the social, cultural, and legal milieu of schooling in the United States in which the improvement of religious literacy and understanding must take place. Public education is the new commons. We must negotiate this commons in two meanings of that term: first, we must come to mutual understandings and agreement about how to proceed toward a common horizon of a religiously plural America; second, we must work our way through the obstacles in these settings in practical ways to achieve results that work.

Conference, “Religious Freedom, Legal Pluralism and Democratic Constitutionalism”

Our friend Claudia Haupt (Columbia) reaches out with news of an interesting looking conference organized by political scientist Jean Cohen: “Religious Freedom, Legal Pluralism and Democratic Constitutionalism” at Columbia University on February 22-23.  Details follow.

Please save the date for:

Religious Freedom, Legal Pluralism and Democratic Constitutionalism
Organized by Political Science Professor Jean L. Cohen, Columbia University

Room 707, International Affairs Building

Friday, February 22, 2013

10:00am–12:00pm: Panel on Constitutionalism and Legal Pluralism

Paper by Dieter Grimm (Humboldt University) with comments by Andrew Arato (The New School)

2:00–4:00pm: Panel on Religious Legal Pluralism and Family Law

Paper by Linda McClain (Boston University) with comments by Mirjam Kunkler (Princeton University) and Karen Barkey (Columbia University)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Room 707, International Affairs Building

10:00am–12:00pm: Panel on Republicanism and Freedom of Religion

Paper by Michel Troper (Paris X) with comments by Claudia Haupt (Columbia Law) and Stathis Gourgouris (Columbia University)

2:00–4:00pm: Panel on Freedom of Religion and Religious Establishment

Paper by Larry Sager (University of Texas, Austin) with comments by Nancy Rosenblum (Harvard University)