Debating Secularism

Witham Larry

in Marketplace of the Gods

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195394757
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199777372 | DOI:
Debating Secularism

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The “religious economies” model challenges the theory of secularization, which says that the role of religion is receding in society and individual lives. Instead, the economic model says that secularization comes and goes and is always complemented by religious revivals and innovations. Individuals, meanwhile, hold beliefs despite a lack of religious affiliation. Hence, there will never be an “end” of religion, as some secularist theory suggests. The “Middletown” study of Muncie, Indiana, illustrates the debate. This debate also includes a comparison of Europe and the United States, which Alexis de Tocqueville began in the early 1800s. The secularism debate raises issues of how we define private religion and “attendance” religion. It also looks at state regulation of religion, supply of religion, and the optimal degrees of secularity and religiousness in a society, as illustrated by the United States, Europe, and the Soviet Union.

Keywords: atheism; Peter Berger; Europe; David Martin; Middletown; religious revivals; secular; Soviet Union; revivals; regulation

Chapter.  9550 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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