Religious Freedom: Preserving the Salt of the Earth

Fred Dallmayr

in Crediting God

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780823233199
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823233212 | DOI:
Religious Freedom: Preserving               the Salt of the Earth

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A momentous development in modern religion, and especially in post-Reformation Christianity is the growing withdrawal of religious faith from worldly institutions and entanglements into a realm of inwardness. This development, sometimes labeled “privatization of faith,” is surely one of the major achievements of Western modernity—but also one of its most dubious and problematic legacies. On one side, the turn to inwardness involved a decisive process of liberation, that is, the exodus of religious faith from the stranglehold of secular powers and potentates; under the rubrics of “religious liberty” or “free exercise of religion,” most modern democratic societies pay tribute to this achievement of individual liberation or emancipation. On the other side, by allowing itself to be “privatized,” religious faith paved the way to its own social obsolescence or atrophy in the face of the surging tide of materialism and consumerism. This chapter explores this problem with reference to contemporary contexts. After discussing, as a first step, the general issues involved in the privatization and deprivatization of faith, it turns as a second step to the recent reconnection of religion and political power in the United States (what has been called the “Americanization” of Christian faith). It delineates a pedagogy of religious freedom that would safeguard the integrity of religious faith while also preserving its role as “prophetic witness” or as the salt of the earth.

Keywords: religion; privatization of faith; political power; Christian faith

Chapter.  5910 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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