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Lecture 2

RELIGST 2N03 Lecture 2: Post-Secular Society and Religious Diversity


Department
Religious Studies
Course Code
RELIGST 2N03
Professor
Tristan Carter
Lecture
2

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Material Religion and Post-Secular Society 9 June 2016
Canadas Changing Religious Landscape
A series of charts. Source: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/06/27/canadas-changing-religious-
landscape/
Peter Berger on Secularization
“I think what I and most other sociologists of religion wrote in the 1960s about secularization was a
mistake. Our underlying argument was that secularization and modernity go hand in hand. With
more modernization comes more secularization. It wasn't a crazy theory. There was some evidence
for it. But I think it's basically wrong. Most of the world today is certainly not secular. It's very
religious” (Peter Berger, 1997 in an interview published in Christianity Today).
Secularization Theory/Thesis
Sociologists in the early to mid-20th century theorized that religions influence would gradually wane
not only in the sense that political authority would assume responsibility for social institutions
traditionally in the realm of religion (education, healthcare, etc.,) but that fewer people would look to
religion for answers to the big questions.By the 1990s many sociologists concluded that the theory
had failed:
Assumption people were more religious in the past based on very little evidence
Religious adherence seemed to be changing (conversions, NRMs) but not lessening and
traditional religion was reasserting itself in the political realm in many places
Acknowledgment that the modern fruits of the Enlightenment (Reason as opposed to Revelation)
appeared to have failed as witnessed by the upheavals in Europe and beyond that culminated in
colonialism and world wars
Is this actually the case? Has the secularization theory been proven wrong?
Religion and Secularism
Secularism and the separation of religion and politics in the modern West is the exception rather
than the rule in the history humankind
Freedom of religionin the sense that we understand it in a liberal democracy rare historically
and cross-culturally
Debate about the success of secularism and the challenge of being religiousin a secular state
The privileging of Christianity
The possibility of being religious and being a citizen in a secular, liberal democracy
Definitions
Post-Secular Society/Societies
o Jurgen Habermas as noted by Dillon (p. 142): Societies where religion was assumed to
be on the wane but are now witnessing a resurgence of religious influences, behaviours
and beliefs.
Material Religion
o Physical manifestations of religion whether in dress, architecture, art, public space, etc.
Laic States
o Turkey and France
o Strict separation of religion and state
o State exercises much greater control over religious expression
o Freedom of religion not constitutionally guaranteed
Post-Secularity & Diversity (Dillon)
According to Habermas religion can offer answers to modern social pathologies including:
Rampant consumerism
Wealth inequality
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