The Secular State Under Siege: Religion and Politics in Europe and America
April 2015, Polity
Throughout human history, religion and politics have entertained the most intimate of connections as systems of authority regulating individuals and society. While the two have come apart through the process of secularization, secularism is challenged today by the return of public religion. This cogent analysis unravels the nature of the connection, disconnection, and attempted reconnection between religion and politics in the West.
In a comparison of Western Europe and North America, Christianity and Islam, Joppke advances far-reaching theoretical, historical, and comparative-political arguments. With respect to theory, it is argued that only a “substantive” concept of religion, as pertaining to the existence of supra-human powers, opens up the possibility of a historical-comparative perspective on religion. At the level of history, secularization is shown to be the distinct outcome of Latin Christianity itself. And at the level of comparative politics, the Christian Right in America which has attacked the “wall of separation” between religion and state and Islam in Europe with the controversial insistence on sharia law and other “illiberal” claims from some quarters are taken to be counterpart incarnations of public religion and challenges to the secular state.
This clearly argued, sweeping book will provide an invaluable framework for approaching an array of critical issues at the intersection of religion, law and politics for advanced students and researchers across the social sciences and legal studies, as well as for the interested public.
Introduction: Religion as Structure and as Actor
Chapter 1: Religion in Social and Political Theory
Chapter 2: Secularization and the Long Christian Exit
Chapter 3: Challenge to the Secular State (I): The Christian Right in America
Chapter 4: Challenge to the Secular State (II): Islam in Europe
Conclusion: Islam and Christianity in the Secular State
"In this impressive work, dealing with a theme of persistent
(indeed, on some counts, increasing) public significance, the
author follows up a sustained historical and conceptual discussion
of the relations between political and religious power with a
penetrating analysis of some of their major contemporary
problematics. Throughout, the scholarly intensity of Joppke s
argument is matched by his capacity for clear, literate exposition,
rendering the book a very valuable contribution to the literature
on its topic."
Gianfranco Poggi, University of Virginia
"The Secular State Under Siege takes on large and
controversial questions with Joppke s characteristic verve
and lucidity. Even those who disagree with parts of the argument
will find the book engaging and illuminating."
Rogers Brubaker, University of California, Los Angeles
"Joppke succeeds in presenting a densely packed, yet highly readable, scholarly introduction to two of the most important topics concerning religion and politics in the West today. This is no small accomplishment and he exhibits a remarkable facility with scholarly material in multiple fields as well as larger contexts on either side of the Atlantic."