Public Religions Revisited

Author: José Casanova

February 1, 2008

In this book chapter Casanova reexamines the arguments he put forth in Public Religion in the Modern World (1994). Casanova points out that public religions suffered from three general limitations: Western-centrism, the restriction of modern public religions to the sphere of civil society, and a state-centered framework for analysis. First, Casanova moves towards a global comparative perspective on religion and secularism by emphasizing the existence of multiple modernities. Second, Casanova draws on the work of Alfred Stepan to argue for a framework in which religious authorities tolerate the autonomy of governments and demand no vetoes or prerogatives, while democratic institutions tolerate the ability of religions to advance their claims in civil and political society, as long as they doe not violate the democratic norms or the rule of law. Finally, Casanova highlights the importance of new, global imagined communities, noting that these pose challenges to both the system of nation-states and to liberal cosmopolitanism. This chapter was published in Religion: Beyond the Concept (2008, ed. Hent De Vries).

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