Special Issue "Religion, Law, and Politics"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (16 February 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Camil Ungureanu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Political and Social Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27 08005 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: critical theory; religion, law, and politics; art; politics
Dr. Benoit Challand
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Sociology Department, New School for Social Research, 6 E 16th Street, Room 923, New York, NY 10011, USA
Interests: political sociology; Arab politics; civil society mobilization; Western European Marxism; global critical theory

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Religion, law, and politics are bodies of knowledge and institutionalized rules that generate order and control uncertainty. With modernity, the dominant liberal paradigm is aimed at differentiating categorically between them (M. Weber, J. Habermas, J. Rawls), separating their respective logics and “places” in society. In times of transformation and crisis, however, this “art of separation” (M. Walzer) cannot be taken for granted. For instance, religion has taken new political forms and entered into legal battles in the public sphere (L. Zucca and C. Ungureanu). Conversely, political and legal groups have become ever more involved in regulating moral-religious conflicts that divide people living under both democratic and non-democratic regimes. Nationalist-populist forces have often articulated their rhetoric by drawing on religious topoi and myths and galvanizing religious groups in society (C. Bottici; B. Challand). These phenomena have been articulated differently depending on the socio-historical context, and recent challenges have blurred and complexified the relation between religion, law, and politics. It is reasonable to assume, moreover, that the current COVID-19 crisis will further fuel religious effervescence and reactions, as well as new forms of authoritarianism.

This Special Issue contributes to the advancement of a renewed hermeneutics focused on the complexities of the relation between politics, law, and religion in the current “unsettled” times (A. Swidler), marked by multifaceted crises (ecological, democratic, epidemical), impacts of both migratory flows and situations of immobility, and the consequent rise in uncertainty. We welcome both theoretical and empirical (case or comparative) studies taking into consideration different historical contexts, religions, and spiritualities. This Special Issue is interdisciplinary and open to contributions from the social sciences (e.g., sociology, political science, anthropology), the humanities (e.g., religious studies, philosophy, history, critical theory, gender studies), and the arts (e.g., literature). It also welcomes contributions from decolonial and postcolonial studies that question the actual links between religion, law, and politics and propose new articulations for our understanding of religion and society.

Dr. Camil Ungureanu
Dr. Benoit Challand
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • religion
  • law
  • politics
  • democracy
  • secularization
  • postsecularism
  • morality
  • postcolonialism

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
‘To Hell with Bishops’: Rethinking the Nexus of State, Law and Religion in Times of Crisis in Zimbabwe
Religions 2021, 12(5), 304; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050304 - 26 Apr 2021
Viewed by 224
Abstract
The article addresses the responses of the government of Zimbabwe and its proxies to a letter issued by Catholic bishops on 14 August 2020, entitled ‘The march is not ended’. The response to the letter presents an ambivalent view of the [...] Read more.
The article addresses the responses of the government of Zimbabwe and its proxies to a letter issued by Catholic bishops on 14 August 2020, entitled ‘The march is not ended’. The response to the letter presents an ambivalent view of the nexus of the state, law and religion in Zimbabwe, which needs to be teased out and challenged in order to reinvent a democratic nation. This theoretical article taps into decoloniality theory to problematise state responses to the letter. The articles discuss responses by government actors, such as Monica Mutswanga and Nick Magwana, and regime enablers, such as Mutendi and Wutawunashe. The responses indicate the weaponization of religion and law to silence dissenting voices, and to enact a skewed nationalism. The article argues that, in the context of crisis, authoritarianism, and abuse of human rights, politicians and religious leaders should position their narratives to enact social justice, ontological density, peace and accountability, as a healing process to usher in sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Law, and Politics)
Open AccessArticle
Nationalist Mobilization, Ethno-Religious Contention, and Legal Innovation in a Stateless Nation: Explaining Catalonia’s 2009 “Law on Centers of Worship”
Religions 2021, 12(5), 295; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050295 - 22 Apr 2021
Viewed by 217
Abstract
This article analyzes the development and framing of Catalonia’s “Law on Centers of Worship”, an innovative law dedicated exclusively to the regulation of religious temples that was passed by the regional Parliament in 2009. The law was a legal novelty in Spain, as [...] Read more.
This article analyzes the development and framing of Catalonia’s “Law on Centers of Worship”, an innovative law dedicated exclusively to the regulation of religious temples that was passed by the regional Parliament in 2009. The law was a legal novelty in Spain, as well as in Europe, where regulations pertaining to places of worship are typically folded into regional or municipal laws and ordinances dealing with zoning and construction. My analysis highlights how the law aimed not only to address the challenges generated by the proliferation of places of worship serving religious minorities, but also to legally reinforce and symbolically affirm Catalonia’s political autonomy and cultural distinctiveness vis-à-vis Spain. I place particular emphasis on how the temporal confluence of heightened nationalist mobilization, on the one hand, and tensions surrounding ethno-religious diversification, on the other, contributed to the development of a legal innovation that integrated the governance of religious diversity within the broader nation-building project. This article’s findings illustrate the role of historical timing and conjunctural causality in shaping the dynamic nexus between religion, law, and politics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Law, and Politics)
Open AccessArticle
Banal Catholicism, Morality Policies and the Politics of Belonging in Spain
Religions 2021, 12(5), 293; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050293 - 22 Apr 2021
Viewed by 428
Abstract
The articulation between religion, politics and the law in contemporary European societies is a complex matter. In this article, we argue that classical secularization approaches fail to capture the ambivalent form of Catholicism in Europe, and we advance an alternative approach that reconsiders [...] Read more.
The articulation between religion, politics and the law in contemporary European societies is a complex matter. In this article, we argue that classical secularization approaches fail to capture the ambivalent form of Catholicism in Europe, and we advance an alternative approach that reconsiders two elements: temporality and social space. Firstly, we propose to adopt an “eventful temporality”, which enables the consideration of the impact of unexpected social and political events in altering the direction as well as shaping the public presence and form of religion. Secondly, we stress the need to focus on understanding the specificity of the different fields in which religion is mobilized, and the configuration and dynamics of each of these fields to explain the current weight of Christian majority churches in European societies. Drawing on empirical data from Spain, we examined the role and influence of Catholicism in three fields of public life: that of public services, that of morality politics and finally, that of the politics of belonging. In doing so, we identified their different temporalities (a long-term inertia in the first case, more abrupt changes in relation to the other two) as well as their specific dynamics in terms of actor constellations, issues at stake and symbolic repertoires. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Law, and Politics)
Open AccessArticle
Orders of Hunger and Heaven: Neoliberalism, Christian Charity and Homelessness in Taiwan
Religions 2021, 12(4), 239; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040239 - 29 Mar 2021
Viewed by 292
Abstract
Based on an ethnographic study of a Christian charity in Taipei, Taiwan, this paper examines how the mixing of “orders of worth” (Boltanski and Thevenot) is negotiated among charity workers and homeless people in the field setting. The organization, Grace Home Church, has [...] Read more.
Based on an ethnographic study of a Christian charity in Taipei, Taiwan, this paper examines how the mixing of “orders of worth” (Boltanski and Thevenot) is negotiated among charity workers and homeless people in the field setting. The organization, Grace Home Church, has two official goals: (1) to glorify God; (2) to assist homeless people. This mix of sacred and secular purposes often produces tensions, with the fundamental tension being between what the charity seeks to provide (salvation) versus what the homeless commonly want to be provided (food). As an analytic tool, I utilize Boltanski and Thevenot’s framework to link emergent tensions with broader social forces, such as neoliberalism, the welfare state, and religion. I will argue that charity workers as well as homeless individuals who have accepted Christianity attempt to separate the market and inspired orders through signifying practices that maintain a symbolic order, thereby justifying a sacred mission (for the charity organization) and self-worth (for the homeless). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Law, and Politics)
Open AccessArticle
Beyond the Rhetoric of Recognition or Separation: Two Swiss Cantons’ Attempts at Governing Religious Superdiversity
Religions 2021, 12(4), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040234 - 25 Mar 2021
Viewed by 371
Abstract
This text offers a careful description and sociological analysis of two legal innovations undertaken to govern religious diversity (in 2007 and 2019) in the neighboring Swiss cantons, Vaud and Geneva. Although the two cantons have very similar social and cultural conditions, they offer [...] Read more.
This text offers a careful description and sociological analysis of two legal innovations undertaken to govern religious diversity (in 2007 and 2019) in the neighboring Swiss cantons, Vaud and Geneva. Although the two cantons have very similar social and cultural conditions, they offer legally opposite solutions—one based on a notion of secularity implying separation, the other favoring recognition of religious diversity. The author argues that beyond an initial appreciation in terms of differences, the two cases are surprisingly similar in their logic of recognition, revealing a sense of deep suspicion towards religious diversity. Drawing on the concept of “recognition” as a multi-dimensional concept including legal, civic, and intimate/person levels and more importantly, on a Foucauldian perspective, this text concentrates on how control is involved at a practical level beyond the rhetoric of empowerment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Law, and Politics)
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