Special Issue "The Public Role of Religion"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 January 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Roberto Cipriani

Department of Education Sciences, Roma Tre University, via del Castro Pretorio 20, 00185 Rome, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +393475160442
Fax: +39 06 57339102
Interests: sociology of religion; popular religiosity; religious symbols; qualitative analysis of religion
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Orivaldo Lopes, jr

Department of Social Sciences, Rio Grande do Norte Federal University, Av. Salgado Filho, 3000 – CCHLA, sala 922. 59078-970 – Natal, RN, Brazil
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +55-84-98774-6355
Interests: sociology of religion; epistemology of religious studies; science-religion interaction, churches and urban violence

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Religion and religiosity play prominent roles in civil society—shaping norms, values, and behaviors in private and public life. But religion and religiosity function in various ways as they influence all spheres of life, from private to public life, from family to economy, from information to politics and so on, nevertheless, its features are changing.

It is not by chance that a new broad spectrum of sociological research is emerging, both quantitative and qualitative, which is able to analyse and measure the real impact of the new dynamics.

  • The focus will be the co-presence of secular and religious world-views; religious movements; religious pluralism, secular movements; secular citizens that recognize the rights of other citizens to their religious conceptions of the world, within the public sphere; various visions of the sacred. An added topic will be the role of the Social Sciences and the Religious Studies in the intermediation between religious views and the universal public policies. How the specific production of these areas are affecting the perspective of religion by public agents?
  • The scope will be to analyse the public role of religion and religions, or rather, how the public dimension itself becomes the most relevant arena where ideas and ways of conducting investigations ought to converge. Adequate, scientifically balanced knowledge is the foreseen outcome, however, of the application of some kind of methodological expedient, one availing of epoché, that is, suspension of judgement and acquisition of such knowledge as to enable to express oneself concerning the question.
  • The specific purpose of this issue is to verify if, in the face of pluralism, it is not neutrality but impartiality that is required, above all in the field of ethics and the law, where the power of the state must be exerted regardless of who the object of its legislative or punitive interventions may be.
  • It is a kind of updating of existing literature, with some new issues afforded.

Prof. Dr. Roberto Cipriani
Prof. Dr. Orivaldo Lopes, jr
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • politics
  • religion(s)
  • values
  • laïcité
  • public space
  • policies
  • state
  • churches
  • religious movements
  • human rights
  • religious minorities

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial “The Public Role of Religion” Editorial Notes
Religions 2018, 9(9), 275; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9090275
Received: 9 August 2018 / Accepted: 5 September 2018 / Published: 13 September 2018
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)

Research

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Open AccessArticle Social Dynamics, Transnational Flows and Public Incidence of Religion in the Frontier in Latin America
Religions 2018, 9(5), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050152
Received: 16 April 2018 / Revised: 4 May 2018 / Accepted: 4 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
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Abstract
In Latin America, the region known as the Triple Frontier is known for its qualitative religious diversification. Different expressions of believing and feeling abound in the neighborhoods and streets of the border towns Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), Puerto Iguaçu (Argentina) and Foz do [...] Read more.
In Latin America, the region known as the Triple Frontier is known for its qualitative religious diversification. Different expressions of believing and feeling abound in the neighborhoods and streets of the border towns Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), Puerto Iguaçu (Argentina) and Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil). The Christian hegemony, important in Latin America, shares space with African religions and with a notable presence of Islam. This dynamic makes the Triple Frontier a privileged geographic region to think about the religious dynamics in Latin America. There is, in this part of the continent, strong socio-cultural interrelations that are fed by the intense flow of material and symbolic religious goods circulating on the frontier. In this sense, the article we propose for this special issue of the journal seeks to discuss how these religious practices have been organized and maintained in the social, dynamic and multiform context of the frontier region. We are interested, based on empirical research carried out in the region, in characterizing the specificities of these distinct manifestations of belief/devotion/practices in the Triple Frontier and in configuring the socio-historical context of the emergence of these religious groups, to relate them to migratory and political issues, their transnational flows and the relations established among themselves in the public space. Finally, in treating the public sphere as a relational and discursive form, this approach will allow us to make visible the relationships between subjects of religious discourse and abstractly construct a model of the circulation network of categories to understand the dynamics of the production processes of legitimacy in the frontier region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
Open AccessArticle New Frontiers and Relations between Religion, Culture and Politics in Western Europe
Religions 2018, 9(5), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050144
Received: 22 January 2018 / Revised: 12 April 2018 / Accepted: 23 April 2018 / Published: 27 April 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (257 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sociology was born as a discipline that analyzed the process of modernization of Western European societies. However, in turn, this science was developing a predictive, prophetic vision of the future of human communities, assuming that they were all going to follow paths similar [...] Read more.
Sociology was born as a discipline that analyzed the process of modernization of Western European societies. However, in turn, this science was developing a predictive, prophetic vision of the future of human communities, assuming that they were all going to follow paths similar to those followed by Western Europeans. This prophetic dimension reduced the capacity of sociology to analyze new phenomena including, on the one hand, phenomena relating to other societies, on the one hand, but also, on the other hand, phenomena related to the transformations suffered by Western European societies after their process of modernization. This last case constitutes the objective of this work, in which I try to recover the purely analytical character of sociology. To this end, I intend to relate the general model of the political modernization of Western European societies elaborated by historical sociology to the theory of social differentiation, avoiding the evolutionary drift of this theory. From that position, I try to specify the analytical nature of some conceptual instruments of sociology, in order to make them more useful to understanding the contemporary social transformations of Western European societies. Some of these transformations have changed the tendency towards the cultural homogenization characteristic of modernization, because after the two world wars these societies began to receive strong flows of immigration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
Open AccessArticle Post-Secularism in a World-Historical Light: The Axial Age Thesis as an Alternative to Secularization
Religions 2018, 9(5), 139; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050139
Received: 5 March 2018 / Revised: 3 April 2018 / Accepted: 4 April 2018 / Published: 24 April 2018
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Abstract
The secularization thesis claims that religion will lose its public influence as the forces of modernity advance. This hypothesis has long functioned as a paradigm within the humanities and social sciences. However, due to the apparent “resurgence” of publicly influential religion throughout the [...] Read more.
The secularization thesis claims that religion will lose its public influence as the forces of modernity advance. This hypothesis has long functioned as a paradigm within the humanities and social sciences. However, due to the apparent “resurgence” of publicly influential religion throughout the world in recent years, scholars have recognized that a “straightforward narrative of progress from the religious to the secular” is no longer viable. I describe the current state of narrative perplexity regarding the changing place of religion in the modern world as the “post-secular problematic.” The aim of this article is to examine the contours of one specific post-secular narrative of religious change—the one that has crystallized around the concept of the axial age—and consider how it can be used to reconceptualize the public role of religion in the modern world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
Open AccessArticle Drugs and Religion: Contributions to the Debate on the Science–Religion Interface
Religions 2018, 9(4), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040136
Received: 13 March 2018 / Revised: 11 April 2018 / Accepted: 12 April 2018 / Published: 18 April 2018
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Abstract
In this article, we present the results of our research, which aims to comprehend how the relationship between religion and the use of drugs operates in various contexts, but especially in the context of a prohibitionist paradigm. On the one hand, the story [...] Read more.
In this article, we present the results of our research, which aims to comprehend how the relationship between religion and the use of drugs operates in various contexts, but especially in the context of a prohibitionist paradigm. On the one hand, the story of human religious worship entails drug use, and on the other hand, religious groups form a set of important protagonists in the current “drug problem”, whether as moral agents or direct action activists (individual or community-based), and above all in close contact with the users. In one of these studies, we evaluated the public presence of Brazilian religions that use psychoactive substances ritually, and we verify that in the State’s regulatory process of this use, the presence of the scientific reference was a defining factor in the creation of public policies, and therefore, within the scope of civil rights for religious freedom. In another study, we evaluated the discourse of twenty religious leaders in the city of Natal, Rio Grande do Norte—Brazil about drug use. We perceived that they have, in general, three stances: pure and simple condemnation, with no corresponding action in the public sphere; the use of substances considered drugs, along with public actions focused on the effort to gain acceptance of this practice; and finally, “comprehensive” condemnation, with frequent public group action or rehabilitation centers. Scientific references, in this study, permeate the discourse as an authenticating force in the religious speech. Ultimately, this reality allows us to question how the academic discourse unfolds in the scope of religion, interfering in the quality and intensity of its actions with relation to drugs, and we conclude that academic posture, often underestimated with relation to the religious institutions, does not aid in the effort to confront the social problems linked to drug abuse. Therefore, an increased interaction between academia and these institutions can generate a new approach to this very serious social problem in Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
Open AccessArticle A Cristo moreno in Barcelona: The Staging of Identity-Based Unity and Difference in the Procession of the Lord of Miracles
Religions 2018, 9(4), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040121
Received: 27 March 2018 / Revised: 27 March 2018 / Accepted: 2 April 2018 / Published: 9 April 2018
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Abstract
The procession known as “Lord of Miracles” is a massive religious phenomenon that takes place in various cities around the world in October. The purpose of this study is to describe and analyze certain elements of the procession, which champion not only the [...] Read more.
The procession known as “Lord of Miracles” is a massive religious phenomenon that takes place in various cities around the world in October. The purpose of this study is to describe and analyze certain elements of the procession, which champion not only the idea of unity (religious, cultural, ethnical, and national), but also the sociocultural differences. With this in mind, we conducted ethnographical research focused on the processions that took place in Barcelona, Spain, in 2016 and 2017. Along with a number of practices and talks intended to activate and strengthen the image of religious unity (Brothers in Christ) and national unity (Brothers of Peru), there are certain dynamics that point to differences, which call that unity into question. Specifically, we focused our study on two seasons of the procession: the scissors dance and the Marian, both dances for the Lord. However, the type of interaction that happens with each of them shows inner differences, which the members establish with the image of the Cristo moreno. These differences are expressed in the special-temporal location of certain stations—which represent subordinate sociocultural manifestations—and in the type of interaction, which the members establish with the image of the Cristo moreno. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
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Open AccessArticle The Theological Foundation of Democracy According to Ratzinger
Religions 2018, 9(4), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040115
Received: 24 February 2018 / Revised: 19 March 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 5 April 2018
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Abstract
When the Cold War was ended in 1989, Francis Fukuyama wrote, three years later, his very well-known book proposing a quite original thesis. He argues that the end of fascism and of communism means the triumph of Eastern liberalism in history. Following a [...] Read more.
When the Cold War was ended in 1989, Francis Fukuyama wrote, three years later, his very well-known book proposing a quite original thesis. He argues that the end of fascism and of communism means the triumph of Eastern liberalism in history. Following a Hegelian perspective, Fukuyama said contrary to Marx that communism, like the other previous economic-political systems that are not liberal, has been only a step to achieve a liberal society. So it happened in Russia and in Eastern Europe, and so it seems to be happening with the progressive opening of the market in China. Today, more than twenty years after Fukuyama wrote, it is time to ask whether secular liberal Western societies still appear to the eyes of humankind to provide the best option. In fact, with the economic crises in Europe, with the austerity imposed on many people and affecting deeply the lives of at least one generation, are liberal societies at risk? Does the growth of the Islamic state after the Arab Spring question the foundation of democratic principles? Considering also Russia and the geo-political problems in Ukraine, can we say that the East has become or is in the process of becoming really democratic? Is the growing popularity of political parties opposed to the European Union, and often embracing anti-democratic ideologies, compatible with Fukuyama’s thesis? It is true, we must say that the American philosopher whom I mentioned assumed that, even if liberal economic-political systems were the best option, their triumph was not automatic and necessary in the long-term. However, Francis Fukuyama recently wrote a new book in which he analyzes a kind of contemporary democratic recession in the first decade of the twenty-first century, a recession that he sees as having delayed the democratic triumph all over the world and over history he announced in the nineties. For me, it is quite interesting to notice how Joseph Ratzinger shares, even if from a different perspective, the concerns of Fukuyama. The German theologian, who became the Pope during a time of political and economic crises, experienced the dictatorship of Nazism and was a protagonist of the Second Vatican Council, in which the Catholic Church accepted positively the principles of democratic society. While, in the past, the relationship between the Church and the “so-called” democrats was characterized especially by confrontation, it seems to me that today, Christianity encourages and is best able to preserve democratic principles. Furthermore, the originality of Ratzinger’s theology consists not only in reconciling the main liberal democratic values with Catholic thought but especially in showing that the condition of the possibility of democracy resides in such Christian theology: democratic values are intelligible and grounded within such theology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
Open AccessArticle Multi-Faith Spaces Uncover Secular Premises Behind the Multi-Faith Paradigm
Religions 2018, 9(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020037
Received: 29 December 2017 / Revised: 12 January 2018 / Accepted: 22 January 2018 / Published: 25 January 2018
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Abstract
Multi-Faith Spaces (MFSs) are a relatively recent invention that has quickly gained in significance. On the one hand, they offer a convenient solution for satisfying the needs of people with diverse beliefs in the institutional context of hospitals, schools, airports, etc. On the [...] Read more.
Multi-Faith Spaces (MFSs) are a relatively recent invention that has quickly gained in significance. On the one hand, they offer a convenient solution for satisfying the needs of people with diverse beliefs in the institutional context of hospitals, schools, airports, etc. On the other hand, MFSs are politically significant because they represent the cornerstone of the public religion in Europe today, that is, multi-faith paradigm. Due to their ideological entanglement, MFSs are often used as the means to promote either a more privatised version of religion, or a certain denominational preference. Two distinct designs are used to achieve these means: negative in the case of the former, and positive in the latter. Neither is without problems, and neither adequately fulfils its primary purpose of serving diverse groups of believers. Both, however, seem to follow the biases and main problems of secularism. In this paper, I analyse recent developments of MFSs to detail their main problems and answer the following question: can MFSs, and the underlying Multi-Faith Paradigm, be classified as a continuation of secularism? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)

Review

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Open AccessReview Religionization of Public Space: Symbolic Struggles and Beyond—The Case of Ex-Yugoslav Societies
Religions 2018, 9(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020036
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 21 January 2018 / Accepted: 22 January 2018 / Published: 25 January 2018
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Abstract
The relationship between religious communities and states in the former Yugoslavia is burdened with socialist heritage, but also with conflicts that ensued after the downfall of the socialist regimes. Although the majority of these countries are defined as secular, the struggles have not [...] Read more.
The relationship between religious communities and states in the former Yugoslavia is burdened with socialist heritage, but also with conflicts that ensued after the downfall of the socialist regimes. Although the majority of these countries are defined as secular, the struggles have not abated. Following the war conflicts, these struggles moved to the political and symbolic level. The formal and informal influence of religious institutions on the secular state and society continues. Since these countries are formally defined as secular and they strive to join the EU, which supports the separation between church(es) and religious communities and the state, with cooperation based on mutual independence and respect, legal solutions are biased towards acknowledging these principles. Nevertheless, the public sphere has become a battlefield in which public space is being occupied, and a particular way of life and values is imposed. The dynamics of symbolic and other struggles in former Yugoslav countries differ as a consequence of different powers and the relationships between specific religious communities within a state. This paper aims to examine the present religionization of public space that has been taking place, despite the fact that the states in question have been declared as secular (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
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Open AccessReview Psychiatry, a Secular Discipline in a Postsecular World? A Review
Religions 2018, 9(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9010032
Received: 17 November 2017 / Revised: 12 January 2018 / Accepted: 16 January 2018 / Published: 22 January 2018
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Abstract
Postsecular theory is developing in academic circles, including the psychiatric field. By asking what the postsecular perspective might imply for the secular discipline of psychiatry, the aim of this study was to examine the postsecular perspective in relation to the secular nature of [...] Read more.
Postsecular theory is developing in academic circles, including the psychiatric field. By asking what the postsecular perspective might imply for the secular discipline of psychiatry, the aim of this study was to examine the postsecular perspective in relation to the secular nature of psychiatry, by way of a narrative review. In a systematic search for literature, relevant articles were identified and analyzed thematically. Thirteen articles were included, and three intertextual themes were identified, which represented ongoing international dialogues in relation to psychiatry and religion—such as intervention, integration, identity, the religious or irreligious psychiatrist, and the multicultural setting of the discipline. Furthermore, the postsecular perspective reveals a (potential) bias against the religious worldviews inherent in the secular. Postsecular theory can contribute to the ongoing discussions of how psychiatry, as a secular discipline, approaches the religious in the lives of patients and psychiatrists. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
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