Volume 43, No. 2 | Religion and politics

Carsten Bagge Laustsen | Religion and politics. Four approaches to a research field

The study of politics and religion today is fragmented to a degree that you can hardly refer to it as one academic field anymore. This article lists four fundamentally different approaches to the study of politics and religion: political religion; religious politics; civilian religion; and finally political theology. The article compares the four approaches on a number of significant parameters: their understanding of what religion is; their critical ambition; to which degree a preliminary distinction between politics and religion is presupposed; and most importantly, how to approach the relationship between religion and politics in an analytical strategic sense. Through this survey, it is the ambition to support a discussion between the four approaches with a view to reaching a more complete understanding of the relationship between politics and religion in all its complexity.

Ole Wæver | Comparative secularism – a research agenda with a potential to moderate conflicts

Conflicts over religion rarely play out today as ”wars of religion” between different religions. More often the battle is between one side wanting more religion in politics and a counterpart insisting on a strict seperation of religion and politics, the secularists. Here, secularism often appears as a given, unambiguous thing – and hardliners on both sides in these conflicts have an interest in confirming this image. In a conflict management perspective, however, it is crucial to demonstrate the variation between different secularisms. This article performs a systematic analysis of what is separated from what, where and how in the allegedly secular states USA, France and Germany. The depth of their variation hopefully inhibits mechanisms of conflict escalation, and provides – more constructively – inspiration for possible reforms in a given situation, for instance the Danish one.

Henrik Reintoft Christensen | “It is not Christianity, it is religion” – strategies for excluding religion from the public space

The representation of Islam in the news is often prejudiced and negative while the Christian heritage is represented as threatened. However, when representations of the two religions are compared similarities are revealed. Focusing on the authority structures of the representations it is evident that it is a specific type of religion and not a specific religion that is problematic. When religion is represented as dogmatic and conservative it is opposed because it rejects the idea of modern and secular democracy. In contrast we find the ethical authority of another type of religion which calls upon the divine through humanity. It is more difficult to reject this type of religion, and the analysis shows that both types are engaged in a conflict of recognition and legitimacy.

Morten Brænder | Stories from the front. A narrative analysis of civil religious elements in military blogs

Do servicemen justify the ultimate sacrifice in civil religious terms? In this article, I compare two military weblogs (milblogs), written by an officer and a private. Both bloggers describe events that took place on February 8, 2007, when three men from their company were killed by a roadside bomb. My point of departure is the theory of Civil Religion as articulated in the wake Robert Bellahs 1967 article ”Civil Religion in America”. Contrary to studies of civil religion centering on narratives in elite discourse, the object of analysis in this article is first-person accounts made by soldiers from the frontline. In the analysis, made by means of a structuralist, narrative approach, I show that both stories contain religious elements. However, only the account by the officer can be categorized as civil religion proper, since only his narrative contains references to the transcendent nature of the nation.

Vibeke Schou Tjalve | On faith, public discourse and desecuritization

In contemporary academic and political debates, religion is often portrayed as a central cause of conflict: a non-negotiable frame of mind which serves to fuel the mechanisms of violence and confrontation in world politics. This article suggests another take, one which views genuine faith as a possible avenue of compromise and reconciliation. Exploring the links the between faith and humility in the figures of St. Augustine, Abraham Lincoln and Reinhold Niebuhr, that alternative avenue is brought to the fore. It is undeniable that modern practices of religion have been inclined to turn faith into a vehicle of ideological self-certainty. But this is not the only way: a case for religion as a de-securitizing force may also be made.

Ophavsretten tilhører Politica. Materialet må ikke bruges eller distribueres i kommercielt øjemed.