Roger Trigg Reviews Comparative Secularisms in a Global Age
January 19, 2012
In this review of Comparative Secularisms in a Global Age (Linell Cady and Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, eds., 2010), Trigg's assessment concludes that "this fascinating and timely volume warns us against assuming any facile understanding of the definition of secularism and the relation between religion and society" (150). In their book, Cady and Hurd take as cases the unique and divergent experiences of and with secularism in Turkey, France, the United States and India. Trigg, reviewing their work, concludes that the volume's strength lies in its breadth of comparative perspective -- the four case studies -- and in its analysis of the nature of secularism in each country. All four secularisms evolved to answer the still-pressing question of how to regulate religion in the public sphere, but the conception of the religious history and the public realm varies from country to country as well. Thus, the authors are able to effectively "show that the countries themselves are each trying to build a secularism resting on very different historical foundations" (149). Hence the timeliness off the work: as more and more of the world picks up the question of public religion, this book cautions that all of the models that exist today are different by nature as well as by nurture. The review was published in the Journal of Contemporary Religion.