Public Religions in the Modern World
January 1, 1994
José Casanova's Public Religions in the Modern World reevaluates the theory of secularization in light of the global resurgence of religion during the last four decades, focusing on the phenomenon of “deprivatization,” or religious re-engagement in the public sphere. The reemergence of religion as a major force in world politics challenged long-held assumptions about the relationship between secularization and modernity. Until the 1970s, social scientists generally accepted the argument that religion was in decline, a traditional institution destined to shrink or vanish under the pressures of modernization. As evidence of a powerful religious revival became impossible to ignore, many scholars reacted by jettisoning the theory of secularization in its entirety. In contrast, Casanova proceeds by drawing an analytical distinction between three distinct moments of the theory of secularization: first, the differentiation of secular spheres, such as the state and the market, from religion; second, the decline of religious practices and beliefs; and third, the privatization of religion. He then argues that differentiation remains the defensible core of secularization, while religious decline is both normatively flawed and empirically false.
The core of the book focuses on the privatization thesis. This begins with a theoretical consideration of the public-private dichotomy that traces its complex lineage and its various applications to the analysis of church-state-society relations. Within this framework, he considers the normative implications of various modes of public religiosity, and contends that civil society offers an arena for public engagement that does not violate the fundamental values of liberal modernity.
These theoretical insights are supported through a comparative study of church-state relations in Spain, Poland, Brazil, and the United States. The case studies show how religious organizations and communities can mobilize to defend societies from abuses of state authority, and demonstrate that religious activism can be compatible with liberal democratic politics.
The combination of theoretical insight and empirical evidence makes Public Religions in the Modern World a modern classic in the study of religion and politics.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Introduction
1 Secularization, Enlightenment, and Modern Religion
2 Private and Public Religions
Part 2: Five Case Studies: Analytical Introduction
3 Spain: From State Church to Disestablishment
4 Poland: From Church of the Nation to Civil Society
5 Brazil: From Oligarchic Church to People's Church
6 Evangelical Protestantism: From Civil Religion to Fundamentalist Sect to New Christian Right
7 Catholicism in the United States: From Private to Public Denomination
Part 3: Conclusion
8 The Deprivatization of Modern Religion