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Secularization and the World Religions

Secularization and the World Religions

Hans Joas
Klaus Wiegandt
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 256
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    Secularization and the World Religions
    Book Description:

    The question of religion, its contemporary and future significance and its role in society and state is currently perceived as an urgent one by many and is widely discussed within the public sphere. But it has also long been one of the core topics of the historically oriented social sciences. The immense stock of knowledge furnished by the history of religion and religious studies, theology, sociology and history has to be introduced into the public conscience today. This can promote greater awareness of the contemporary global religious situation and its links with politics and economics and counter rash syntheses such as the “clash of civilizations”. This volume is concerned with the connections between religions and the social world and with the extent, limits, and future of secularization. The first part deals with major religious traditions and their explicit or implicit ideas about the individual, social and political order. The second part gives an overview of the religious situation in important geographical areas. Additional contributions analyze the legal organization of the relationship between state and religion in a global perspective and the role of the natural sciences in the process of secularization. The contributors are internationally renowned scholars like Winfried Brugger, José Casanova, Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, Hans Joas, Hans G. Kippenberg, Gudrun Krämer, David Martin, Eckart Otto and Rudolf Wagner.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-567-1
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Notes on Contributors (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword (pp. ix-x)
    Hans Joas and Klaus Wiegandt

    From 31 March to 5 April 2006, the fifth conference of the Forum für Verantwortung foundation, entitled ‘Secularization and the World Religions’, was held at the European Academy, Otzenhausen (Saarland). The foundation invited scholars in various fields, among them Cardinal Lehmann, to cast light on the topic in a way comprehensible to the approximately 180 attendees, whose interests cover a broad spectrum. The discussions with the audience that followed the lectures showed that they had fully achieved this aim. We would like to take this opportunity to again thank all the speakers.

    The lectures delivered in Otzenhausen have been brought...

  5. Society, State and Religion: Their Relationship from the Perspective of the World Religions: An Introduction (pp. 1-22)
    Hans Joas

    The question of religion, its contemporary and future significance and its role in society and state is currently perceived as an urgent one by many and is widely discussed within the public sphere. But it is also – and has long been – one of the core topics of the historically oriented modern social sciences, indeed, of the modern disciplines of history and philosophy of history since their emergence in the eighteenth century. Increased public interest opens up an opportunity to think in new ways about the immense stock of knowledge furnished by the history of religion and religious studies,...

  6. 1 Catholic Christianity (pp. 23-45)
    Cardinal Karl Lehmann

    Even from a methodological point of view, references to Catholic Christianity are far from straightforward. Such references are possible only if we have already referred to Christianity in general, for it is only within the genus ‘Christianity’ that we can deal meaningfully with the Catholic component in the sense of a specific difference. It is, however, certainly possible to dispute this, for there are those who believe, specifically with respect to Christianity in general, that the specific activities in which the denominations are engaged are underpinned by a fundamental hermeneutic difference, such as the Protestant principle.

    We may attempt to...

  7. 2 Protestantism (pp. 46-76)
    Friedrich Wilhelm Graf

    Strictly speaking, the above title is incorrect. It is certainly possible to speak of ‘Catholicism’ to designate that form of Christianity which, alongside the Orthodox churches on the one hand and those decisively inspired by the sixteenth-century Reformation, together with religious revivalist movements and ‘sects’ on the other, represents the third strand of Christian tradition: the Roman Catholic ‘world church’ centred on the office of the Pope. But there is neither a Protestant ‘world church’ comparable to Roman Catholic centralism nor any other kind of globally organized institution that might be in a position to unite the factual diversity of...

  8. 3 The Departure and Return of God: Secularization and Theologization in Judaism (pp. 77-107)
    Eckart Otto

    Our experience of religions is ambivalent. In Central Europe, particularly Germany, the public importance of religious communities, especially the Christian churches, seems to be declining; this appears to be the continuation of a long-term trend that is constantly invoked or regretted. In other parts of the world, we are seeing a truly astonishing revitalization of religious communities within Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, but also Christianity, in North and South America for example. Taking one of the world religions, Judaism, as a paradigm, this chapter investigates the causes of each process, the secularization and theologization of public life, but above all...

  9. 4 Islam and Secularization (pp. 108-121)
    Gudrun Krämer

    For a number of years, public debate has distinguished more clearly between Islam and Islamism than was formerly the case, and quite rightly so: Islam is a world religion with well over a billion followers, who live and experience their religion in a wide variety of ways. Sunnis differ in certain respects from Shiites, traditionalist Muslims from liberal ones; some seek a spiritual path to God, others want nothing to do with mysticism; some lead an ascetic lifestyle, others enjoy life to the full; many see politics as an important aspect of their religion, while others reject politics in the...

  10. 5 Hinduism (pp. 122-140)
    Heinrich von Stietencron

    Statistics have taught us to regard Hinduism as the third largest contemporary religion in terms of number of adherents, after Christianity and Islam.¹ Hindus make up 89 per cent of the population in Nepal, 82 per cent in India, 52 per cent on Mauritius, 38 per cent and 37 per cent in the South Pacific and the Caribbean; and they also live, as extremely large and, for some years, rapidly growing minorities, in the USA and Canada, Australia, Southeast Asia, the Arab countries, Africa and Europe. Hindus number around 900 million in total. If, as has been argued for many...

  11. 6 Secularization: Confucianism and Buddhism (pp. 141-159)
    Rudolf G. Wagner

    ‘Secularization’ is a Latinism used in European languages referring to the helplessness of the individual whose world-regulating God has died on him.¹ All that is left to him is to cope, at his own risk and taking full responsibility, with the finite and fragile nature of his individual and social existence in this time and in this world.

    The word claims to describe a historical state of global dimensions. It is difficult to conceive of the existence of God as a regional or local phenomenon and just as difficult to imagine that His absence applies only as far as the...

  12. 7 From Hostility through Recognition to Identification: State–Church Models and their Relationship to Freedom of Religion (pp. 160-180)
    Winfried Brugger

    To a significant degree, the origins of the modern Western state as a form of political organization lie in its departure from the medieval unity of state and Christian church. This occurred because the state no longer had to deal only with one Christian church, but rather with Protestantism and Catholicism. The competition between these religions, which was carried on within the various political camps, along with struggles for dominance between religious and political power, made peace impossible. This resulted in the chaos of civil war, and terrible wars between states. The secularization of worldly power thus seemed inevitable over...

  13. 8 ‘Science Doesn’t Tremble’: The Secular Natural Sciences and the Modern Feeling for Life (pp. 181-205)
    Ernst Peter Fischer

    So begins Peter Sloterdijk’s ‘Note on the Changing Form of the Religious in the Modern World’.¹ Here the author does not distinguish between two meanings that are usually kept apart in German: the concrete use of church property by secular authorities –Säkularisation– and the spiritual process ‘which, over the course of modern European history, has endowed individuals with ever greater autonomy over their own lives and with respect to church and religious systems of order’ –Säkularisierung, as the entry on secularization in the German encyclopedia Brockhaus (vol. 19, 1992) puts it. ‘Modern European history’ – for a...

  14. 9 The Religious Situation in Europe (pp. 206-228)
    José Casanova

    This essay is divided into three parts. First, I offer a very general and therefore somewhat superficial overview of the contemporary religious situation in Europe. In the second part, I offer a series of arguments why the paradigm of secularization is not very helpful in trying to explain the complex religious situation in Europe today, and why we need to look at the secularization of Western European societies with new eyes and with new perspectives, which can only come from a more comparative historical and global perspective. Finally, I offer some suggestions as to why the expectation that religion would...

  15. 10 The Religious Situation in the USA (pp. 229-240)
    Hans Joas

    Even for those who visit the USA only occasionally and lack deep historical knowledge of the country, its religious pluralism and vitality are probably impossible to miss. While the German village often seems to be built around its only church, its American counterpart generally features a large number of churches, often lined up along a single street – a reflection of the great variety of religious faiths. In Europe on the other hand, despite all the changes wrought by industrialization and urban growth, flight and expulsion, the principle that there can be just one religion in one territory is still...

  16. 11 The Religious Situation in East Asia (pp. 241-277)
    Joachim Gentz

    To write about the religious situation in East Asia within the context of a book on ‘secularization and the world religions’ presupposes that the reader understands a number of points. I would like to begin by reflecting briefly on these.

    East Asia is taken here to mean China, Japan and Korea. China will be a key focus of attention because it represents the largest and most influential cultural area in East Asia. The term ‘religious’ covers both major global religious traditions and specifically national and local religious forms that dominate the religious situation of individual regions. Alongside older religious traditions...

  17. 12 The Relevance of the European Model of Secularization in Latin America and Africa (pp. 278-295)
    David Martin

    Secularization involves several dimensions, but refers in particular to the decreasing salience of any reference to the transcendent or to a realm beyond, above or interfusing with mundane reality. Any tension between the transcendent and the mundane is relaxed, or else taken over by the secular utopias of politics or by the myths of nationalism. This process has been seen in an enlightened perspective as the erosion of superstition by rationality or science and/or the liberation of humanity or the human as such from oppression and alienation. It has also been seen as inevitable, spreading out by degrees from its...

  18. 13 The Desecularization of the Middle East Conflict: From a Conflict between States to a Conflict between Religious Communities (pp. 296-323)
    Hans G. Kippenberg

    The Charter of the United Nations disapproves of a practice long a standard feature of human history, one often glorified by history books and religions. Article 2 stipulates:

    3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered. 4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

    On this view, when Alexander the Great acquired territories...

  19. Afterword (pp. 324-326)
    Klaus Wiegandt

    While the natural scientific conferences of my Foundation bore the imprint of Ernst Peter Fischer, the scientific advisor at my Foundation, those within the field of the social sciences and humanities bear the unmistakable signature of Hans Joas. The book arising from the third conference, ‘The Cultural Values of Europe’, which he directed, has now run to four editions and appeared in English in 2008.

    The fifth conference, ‘Secularization and the World Religions’, was also planned and realized by Hans Joas in exemplary fashion. I would like to express my personal thanks to him both for this and for his...