The Problem of Religion and the Anxieties of European Secular Democracy

Author: José Casanova

October 20, 2008

In "The Problem of Religion and the Anxieties of European Secular Democracy," José Casanova tackles the perception in Europe that democracies must be secular. First, he looks at the historical and sociological narratives developed in Europe that argue that Europe's growth and dominance required secularization. Second, Casanova problematizes these narratives. He points out that the characterization of modern European history as secular is problematic at best, showing multiple examples of a close relationship between religion and democracy. Finally, Casanova argues that in contemporary Europe, most of the worries about religion in modern democracies actually emerge from secular fears about religion, rather than the religious views or actors themselves. This essay is a chapter in Religion and Democracy in Contemporary Europe, an edited volume of papers first presented at a conference sponsored by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

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