Secularism and Religious Traditions

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 December 2022) | Viewed by 30431

Special Issue Editors

Department of International Relations, Uniwersytet Opolski, 45-061 Opole, Poland
Interests: international cultural relations; religion in international relations; conflict resolution and peace building; civil society; social movements; the evolution of modern diplomacy
Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland
Interests: religion in international relations; international relations in the Middle East; Israeli foreign policy; the Holy See in international relations

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

When the founders of modern social sciences, such as Emile Durkheim and Max Weber, theorized about the relationship between religion and social change, they foresaw secularization becoming one of the effects of the modernization process. A combination of numerous phenomena such as industrialization, urbanization, a scientific world view, rationalism, individualism, pluralism, and finally, secularism cumulating in the Western world are perceived as the core of modernization, characterizing the West and, in a sense, “reserved” only for some societies but not for others. Yet, upon reflection, the idea developed that the Western monopoly on modernization and the consequences of this offered an exclusive and limiting perspective. In the contemporary world, in fact, one encounters multiple modernities. Understanding this world and how it transforms multiple perspectives is thus necessary.

The cognitive and epistemological need to “reach beyond” the West is nothing new in the area of social science. Yet, we still face the problem of the “subconscious”, Western-oriented comprehension and analysis of social reality, which is clearly visible when the Western perspective on religion and its role in modern societies is applied. The essence of this limited approach was embodied not only in the secularization theory that dominated the area of social science for decades. It also revealed itself in secularism, indicating the dichotomic separation between the “private” and “public”, as well as the “communal” and the “individual”. An attempt to counter the dominating perspective of this “secular bias” in world politics and Western political science has been advocated over the last two decades by scholars who propose a revised, dialogue-oriented perspective of the “postsecular”, which aims to bridge secular and religious ideas for the benefit of those who are both religious and atheist.

In every religion that we propose to define as humanity’s relationship with the supernatural, the transcendent or the otherworldly, more inclusive, positive approaches, as well as more exclusive, critical approaches, toward contemporary social changes are present. Some of them do encourage a dialogue with the world, while others do not. Some approaches tend to become truly globalized religions (“global Christianity”, “global Islam”) and some do not have such ambitions, limiting themselves to national social–political influences (Hinduism in India, Judaism in Israel, Orthodoxy in Russia). What brings them all together is that social–political developments, both locally and globally, can rarely be understood without referring to relatively visible or direct religious determinants.

With this Special Issue, we hope to widen the scope of the ongoing discussion on the problem of secularism in different religious traditions. We invite scholars dealing with this religious topic within numerous disciplines of social science, especially focusing on mutual relations between religion and politics, both in the domestic and international dimensions.

Taking into consideration the richness of ideas and aims represented by different religious traditions and actors, among the numerous possible questions and approaches we propose the following:

* How do particular religious traditions behave in the face of modernity? Is their reaction to cut themselves off from the world or to catch up with the changes that are taking place? Do both of these processes occur simultaneously?

*How are the functions of different evolving religions influenced by modernity and postmodernity?

*How do these changes affect the identity of individuals and groups?

*To what extent can we use and how should we define “secularism” in non-Western religious traditions?

*Is the term “postsecularism” applicable in non-Western contexts?

*How can religion be researched considering its multidimensional presence and influence it on a local and global scale?

  • Full manuscript deadline: 5 December 2022

Dr. Joanna Kulska
Dr. Anna M. Solarz
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • secularism
  • post secularism
  • modernity and postmodernity
  • politics and religion

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Research

20 pages, 377 KiB  
Article
The “Secular” in Post-1967 Islamist Thought; Revisiting Arab Intellectual History and Political Ideology towards 20th Century fin-de-siècle
Religions 2023, 14(6), 686; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060686 - 23 May 2023
Viewed by 1469
Abstract
This article gives an historical and analytical account of post-1967 Islamist intellectual production in the Arab-Muslim world and the ways it shaped political ideology in the region. By discussing Islamist approaches and debates with regards to the “secular” and secularism in the Arab-Muslim [...] Read more.
This article gives an historical and analytical account of post-1967 Islamist intellectual production in the Arab-Muslim world and the ways it shaped political ideology in the region. By discussing Islamist approaches and debates with regards to the “secular” and secularism in the Arab-Muslim world the paper tries to answer mainly two research questions: what the perceptions over secularism were after the 1967 Naksa, and how intellectual transformations were applied on political identities, ideologies and strategies by some Islamist parties, occasionally leading to cross-ideological synergies. Using conceptual history, we divide post-1967 into two broad periods, while we argue that Islamist thought copiously appropriated notions of the secular with, however, many limitations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
11 pages, 226 KiB  
Article
Losing and Finding Braj: Commodification and Entrepreneurship in the Sacred Land of Krishna
Religions 2023, 14(5), 643; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14050643 - 10 May 2023
Viewed by 860
Abstract
Braj is a sacred place revered by Bengali Vaishnavas, followers of the bhakti sect of Vaishnavism, one of four branches of Hindu devotion. Followers of the sect worship the God Krishna, who it is believed manifested in Braj and carried out many divine [...] Read more.
Braj is a sacred place revered by Bengali Vaishnavas, followers of the bhakti sect of Vaishnavism, one of four branches of Hindu devotion. Followers of the sect worship the God Krishna, who it is believed manifested in Braj and carried out many divine feats and activities that are imprinted onto the land. Braj today is dotted with thousands of holy shrines, temples and natural places connected to Krishna. Devotees connect to Krishna through the landscape of Braj; it is where the transcendental and the physical realms meet. Braj has been transformed in a multitude of ways with the influx of money from Western sources, commercial enterprises and developers that wish to modernize and commercialize it for the new religious consumer. New infrastructure, condo developments and other changes illustrate both the challenge and the promise of modernity. This paper examines how these transformations are impacting the region of Braj. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
17 pages, 363 KiB  
Article
The Sacralization of Politics? A Case Study of Hungary and Poland
Religions 2023, 14(4), 525; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040525 - 12 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1836
Abstract
Religion influencing politics and politics impacting religion to achieve its own, very non-religious, goals are determining the reality of contemporary states and of global politics. Mutual relations between religion and nationalism have proven to be one of the most complex and unequivocal challenges [...] Read more.
Religion influencing politics and politics impacting religion to achieve its own, very non-religious, goals are determining the reality of contemporary states and of global politics. Mutual relations between religion and nationalism have proven to be one of the most complex and unequivocal challenges shaping contemporary states in the areas of both their domestic and their foreign policies. This article is an attempt to compare two cases which are often wrongly perceived as twin models of links between religion and politics, namely Poland and Hungary. In both states, based either on actually present or on “constructed” Christian values, myths and symbols religious–national narratives have been developed by leading politicians (Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland and Viktor Orbán in Hungary) linked directly to the sacralization of ethnos (nation) and the ethnicization of religion. The conducted analysis has a theoretical character. The sacralization of nation and the ethnicization of religion occurring in Poland and Hungary are presented against quite different historical and cultural backgrounds and levels of religiosity/secularization in both countries. In order to explain this specificity, an analysis is performed upon a broader historical and cultural context and upon a specific understanding of religion and nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
20 pages, 926 KiB  
Article
The Reactions of Orthodox Churches to Russia’s Aggression towards Ukraine in the Light of the Postsecular Approach to IR Studies
Religions 2023, 14(4), 515; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040515 - 07 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1842
Abstract
Russia’s war against Ukraine, in which the aggressor has been making use of religion, including theological rhetoric, to achieve its aims, has sparked reactions from Orthodox Churches all over the world. This has led to a revitalisation of social teaching, including discussions on [...] Read more.
Russia’s war against Ukraine, in which the aggressor has been making use of religion, including theological rhetoric, to achieve its aims, has sparked reactions from Orthodox Churches all over the world. This has led to a revitalisation of social teaching, including discussions on war and peace within the Orthodox tradition. This may well become a further impetus for more in-depth research on religion and international relations, and possibly for more reappraisals of the secular identity of IR studies. An analysis of the attitudes of Orthodox Churches towards this war indicated that the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, which considers itself the most important centre of Orthodox culture and civilisation, is waning. The reaction of other local churches showed that it is difficult to recognise the Russian Orthodox Church as such an authority. These revaluations may have a significant impact on Russia’s place in the new international order, although much depends on the final outcome of the war it has started. We explain the different reactions of the churches, and we refer to the social teaching(s) on war of the Russian Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate according to their official synodal documents. In this teaching, we can see two different approaches—Russian and Constantinopolitan. In the world of the Orthodox tradition, the former, whose practical expression was the atrocities committed during the ongoing war, seems to be rejected in favour of the latter, Constantinople. Finally, there is the question of how the reaction of the Orthodox Churches (analysed below), which have clashed with secularism in a different manner than the Western Churches, might contribute to the development of a postsecular awareness and, consequently, a postsecular identity for IR studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
13 pages, 286 KiB  
Article
Analysis of Religiosity in Slovakia since 1989 and Paths of Its Development
Religions 2023, 14(3), 415; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14030415 - 18 Mar 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1308
Abstract
The study presents the results of research into the current state of selected religiosity phenomena in the Slovak Republic and models possible pathways for the future development of the selected phenomena. The starting point is an analysis of three decades of development of [...] Read more.
The study presents the results of research into the current state of selected religiosity phenomena in the Slovak Republic and models possible pathways for the future development of the selected phenomena. The starting point is an analysis of three decades of development of religiosity in the region from 1989 to the present day. The input data were obtained as part of a research project focused on development prospects. The data refer to the second and third decades of the reporting period. The data are subjected to statistical and correlation analyses. Analyses deal with the phenomenon of faith and its content, rational and liturgical interpretations of religiosity, and questions of the meaning of existence and the moral dimension of faith. Thanks to the application of selected religionist theories, this formulates possible paths which the religiosity of the selected region will take, describing the potential as well as the risks of development for individual directions of development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
17 pages, 293 KiB  
Article
Politics and Religion in Montenegro—From “Theocracy” to a Civic State
Religions 2023, 14(2), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14020251 - 14 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2106
Abstract
The relationship between religion(s) and politics, i.e., religious communities and political authorities, in Montenegro has varied and taken different forms throughout the country’s history. Available research, mostly historical in nature, is predominantly factual and does not provide a clear picture of the nature [...] Read more.
The relationship between religion(s) and politics, i.e., religious communities and political authorities, in Montenegro has varied and taken different forms throughout the country’s history. Available research, mostly historical in nature, is predominantly factual and does not provide a clear picture of the nature and forms of this relationship in Montenegro’s history. Through an analysis of legal–historical sources and relevant literature, this paper aims to indicate the complexity of the relationship between politics and religion through the identification and analysis of the different forms of the aforementioned relationship. The fact that Montenegro had pronounced features of a theocracy at the beginning of the creation of the state makes this context specific not only to the Balkan region, but also beyond. The concept of state religion and the period dominated by features of Caesaropapism was replaced by a period of modernisation of the state that gave rise to a separation of political and religious elements. The period of authoritarian socialism, in turn, led to the ideological suppression of religion. The early phases of democratisation in the last decade of the 20th century induced further change in the nature of the relationship between political authorities and religious communities, which continued in the new context of civic and multicultural Montenegro. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
14 pages, 1767 KiB  
Article
Confessional Instruction or Religious Education: Attitudes of Female Students at the Teacher Education Faculties in Serbia
Religions 2023, 14(2), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14020160 - 28 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1472
Abstract
This paper presents an empirically study on the attitudes of female university students at all Teacher Education Faculties in Serbia (TEFS). For the purposes of this study, a survey was prepared to be completed by students online, and virtual exponential non-discriminative snowball sampling [...] Read more.
This paper presents an empirically study on the attitudes of female university students at all Teacher Education Faculties in Serbia (TEFS). For the purposes of this study, a survey was prepared to be completed by students online, and virtual exponential non-discriminative snowball sampling was applied. The independent variables were religion, major subjects, year of study, age, the completion of secondary schooling, whether an optional subject was studied during previous schooling, and whether female students were employed. The dependent variables were the respondents’ attitudes to religious instruction and civic education. The sample included 372 students from all TEFS, and the research was conducted in the period from 15 May to 8 June 2022. The data were processed with the aid of nonparametric statistics. The results showed that religion did not contribute to differences in students’ attitudes and opinions regarding the method of performing religious instruction and civic education, but that some other factors contributed to it, such as previous experience with these subjects and whether the respondent had completed secondary schooling. These results may be interpreted in the light of the weaknesses of the confessional model, that is, the lack of knowledge regarding the basic paradigms of other confessions, which is of great importance for countries such as Serbia which have numerous national minorities and religious communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
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12 pages, 287 KiB  
Article
The Secularism of Putin’s Russia and Patriarch Kirill’s Church: The Russian Model of State–Church Relations and Its Social Reception
Religions 2023, 14(1), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010119 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2806
Abstract
The Russian Federation is a secular state, and the church is separate from the state. Nonetheless, during Putin’s rule, a seemingly desecularising transition has taken place in Russia. This transition can be observed on legal, ideological, and social levels. This article presents the [...] Read more.
The Russian Federation is a secular state, and the church is separate from the state. Nonetheless, during Putin’s rule, a seemingly desecularising transition has taken place in Russia. This transition can be observed on legal, ideological, and social levels. This article presents the characteristics of a new secular-state model that has developed in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We claim that the evolution of the public role of religion in Russia and the state’s attitude towards religion cannot be considered in any way a symptom of the post-secularisation tendencies observed in some Western societies. Desecularisation in Russia takes place only at the verbal level. However, this façade desecularisation conceals a profound secularisation of religious institutions and organisations, understood as their total subordination to state policy objectives and, thus, their becoming elements of the state structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
15 pages, 3652 KiB  
Article
Patriotism as a Political Religion: Its History, Its Ambiguities, and the Case of Hungary
Religions 2023, 14(1), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010116 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3132
Abstract
The article discusses patriotism as a “political religion”, an ambiguous phenomenon that is both a substitute for former religious traditions and something that remains profoundly analogous with them. Special emphasis is laid on the origins of such political religions in the modern era [...] Read more.
The article discusses patriotism as a “political religion”, an ambiguous phenomenon that is both a substitute for former religious traditions and something that remains profoundly analogous with them. Special emphasis is laid on the origins of such political religions in the modern era and the role of the state in their emergence, which somewhat relativizes Böckenförde’s famous thesis on the rise of the state as a “process of secularization”. The article also follows the spread of religious patriotism in nineteenth-century Europe and how it contributed to the project of nation-building in different environments. This larger context helps to better explain such cases as that of Hungary, which has produced a variety of patriotic narratives, symbols, and rituals from its beginnings to the present day, raising doubts about the overarching validity of the secularization thesis. Methodologically, this approach involves the analysis of historical and contemporary texts, visual representations, and liturgical practices, while the conclusion suggests that, although the concept of “political religion” remains controversial, the enduring force of patriotism is better explained by the interaction of politics and religion than by a purely secular outlook. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
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20 pages, 768 KiB  
Article
Understanding Personal Stances on Religion: The Relevance of Organizational Behavior Variables
Religions 2023, 14(1), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010063 - 30 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2083
Abstract
This paper develops a framework for analyzing two personal stances on religion—Adherence to Religion and Autonomy from Religion. We propose that the two stances are independent constructs rather than opposite poles of the same continuum. Each stance is conceptualized as a higher-order construct, [...] Read more.
This paper develops a framework for analyzing two personal stances on religion—Adherence to Religion and Autonomy from Religion. We propose that the two stances are independent constructs rather than opposite poles of the same continuum. Each stance is conceptualized as a higher-order construct, with different first-order measures of motivations, beliefs and perceptions. With these conceptualizations, we explore the relevance of Organizational Behavior research for informing Religious Studies. We test a nomological network of personal stances on religion with structural equations modelling and a sample of 3072 Catholic participants. The results provide support for the use of higher-order constructs. The first-order measures that possess the highest influence are Relatedness Motivation for Adherence, and Perception of Church Politics for Autonomy. The model explains 23% of Religious Commitment, and thus identifies relevant predictors for participation in rituals, a crucial issue for the maintenance and development of the relationship with the Catholic Church. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
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14 pages, 277 KiB  
Article
A New Dimension of the Catholic Church’s Influence on the World: On the Novelty of the Social Teaching of St. John Paul II
Religions 2022, 13(12), 1217; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13121217 - 15 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1173
Abstract
When reflecting on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the modern world in the second half of the 20th century, it is impossible to overlook the radical shift brought about by John Paul II. As Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde points out, the saintly Pope [...] Read more.
When reflecting on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the modern world in the second half of the 20th century, it is impossible to overlook the radical shift brought about by John Paul II. As Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde points out, the saintly Pope opened a “new dimension of the Church’s influence on the world”. The essence of this novelty was John Paul II’s perception of the Church’s task as being defined “centrally and exclusively from the perspective of its salvation mission”. The above thesis seems proven regarding Holy See diplomacy. The most prominent example of a “new approach” was the decision taken by John Paul II to put aside Ostpolitik, dominant since the t ime of John XXIII. Nonetheless, the question arises regarding a change in the social teaching of the Church under St. John Paul II, for ultimately, political praxis is always rooted in some theory. In the case of the Church, the theoretical foundation of the Church’s socio-political activity and its relation to modern world is Catholic social doctrine. The presented article examines the meaning of the teaching of St. John Paul II for the nature, method, and goals of the social teaching of the Church. If Böckenförde is right when writing about the political novelty of the Polish Pope’s pontificate, also in this field, despite numerous references to his predecessors, the position of John Paul II should be associated with a significant novum. The article is devoted to discussing this thesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
21 pages, 342 KiB  
Article
The Scramble for Religion and Secularism in Pre-Colonial Africa
Religions 2022, 13(11), 1096; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13111096 - 14 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3826
Abstract
The debate on the existence of religion in Africa is far from over; it reverberates in new dimensions but asking the same old questions in newer ways. The same argument is being extended to secularism. This article takes a critical look at the [...] Read more.
The debate on the existence of religion in Africa is far from over; it reverberates in new dimensions but asking the same old questions in newer ways. The same argument is being extended to secularism. This article takes a critical look at the concepts, religion and secularism in sub-Saharan pre-colonial Africa, raising the recurring question still maintained by the West whether there was ‘religion’ in Africa at the turn of colonialism. It argues that where no religion exists, the notion of secularism as understood by the West, cannot also exist since the latter is not just the ‘opposite’ of the former, but in actual fact, streams from it. However, since the position of ‘non-religion’ in Africa could not be sustained by the West, the question of how and why ‘secularism’ was not also ‘discovered’ in pre-colonial Africa spontaneously arises. Not denying the widespread diversities of religious beliefs in pre-colonial Africa, this paper argues for the existence of religion, and presence and praxis of religio-secularity, which is non-atheistic in nature that also foregrounds the practice of ‘secularity’ in post-colonial Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
15 pages, 292 KiB  
Article
Young People and the Process of Secularisation in Contemporary Greek Society
Religions 2022, 13(10), 999; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13100999 - 20 Oct 2022
Viewed by 1341
Abstract
During the last twenty years, a significant shift has taken place in Greek society. On the one hand, the religious context has been altered due to the arrival of immigrants and refugees with different religious backgrounds. On the other hand, young people seem [...] Read more.
During the last twenty years, a significant shift has taken place in Greek society. On the one hand, the religious context has been altered due to the arrival of immigrants and refugees with different religious backgrounds. On the other hand, young people seem to distance themselves from religion and the Orthodox Church in various ways. With the above in mind, this article will try to answer a number of questions: Are young people in contemporary Greek society religious? What do they think about the role of the Orthodox Church? How do they value the Church’s public discourse on issues such as immigration, gender equality, and homosexuality? Where do they stand on state–Church relations? How close are they to the Orthodox Church? Based on theoretical discussions about secularisation, secularism, and the post-secular, this article builds upon quantitative and qualitative research on young people from 17 to 35 years of age. The main argument is that young people seem to gradually move away from religion and the Orthodox Church, while in some cases, religion becomes a private matter; this indicates that there seems to be a process of secularisation underway, although further research is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
14 pages, 334 KiB  
Article
Secularism as Equality: French Islamic Discourses on Laïcité
Religions 2022, 13(10), 927; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13100927 - 03 Oct 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2481
Abstract
Islamic resistance to secularism is one of the most frequently stated problems in France. This paper addresses this issue as seen by French Muslim discourses. It is argued, here, that French Muslim discourses on laïcité are determined by the claim of equal treatment [...] Read more.
Islamic resistance to secularism is one of the most frequently stated problems in France. This paper addresses this issue as seen by French Muslim discourses. It is argued, here, that French Muslim discourses on laïcité are determined by the claim of equal treatment of Muslims and non-Muslims in France. Thus, this paper highlights the importance of the inequality framework and the tendency to give preference to rights over responsibilities in French Muslim discourses on secularism. Seven Islamic works published between 1994 and 2019 by mainstream-reformist Muslim intellectuals and activists will be analysed, showcasing that the general attitude of Islamic leadership in France is to demand the right to difference and equality, a laïcité that respects the autonomy and freedom to practice religion, including in the public space. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
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