Political religion: secularity and the study of religion in global civil society

John D'Arcy May

in Religion, spirituality and the social sciences

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9781847420411
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303190 | DOI:
Political religion: secularity and the study of religion in global civil society

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The place of religion within the civil society has always been a contested issue. Some contend that religion should be separated from the mechanisms of the society while some argue that religion is indispensable to public morality and good government. In addition to the debates on religion, the concept of ‘political religion’ is also contested as it is a term loaded with ambiguities. Should religion be instrumentalised by politics? Should it be kept away from the political sphere? Is it the case that religions are constitutively political in their different ways, such that their political orientation will always come to light in the public sphere? These ambiguities in the notion of political religion call for caution in addressing the topic in the field of Religious Studies as well as in the field of International Relations. This chapter investigates in what sense religion can legitimately be political. It also considers the implications of this in International Relations. It ponders on whether the emerging global civil society will be secular in the same sense as its nation state predecessors.

Keywords: religion; political religion; Religious Studies; International Relations; global civil society

Chapter.  6537 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion

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