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Epilogue Religious Discourse in State and Civil Society i noted in chapter 10 that although dooyeweerd entertains a qualified notion of a Christian state, he nevertheless clearly rejects any discriminatory treatment of religion on the part of the state. It is one thing, however, to support a nonsectarian public policy toward­ religion but quite another to supply a genuinely public philosophy—one effectively addressed to a public audience and successfully illuminating the nature of the public good. Treating religiously or ideologically diverse communities equitably may indeed help preserve civic peace, but if those communities look to the state only for legal space to sustain their own self-referential tribal narratives, then the civic bonds holding the political community together will be tenuous. I noted that Dooyeweerd progres­ sed from a view of his work as uniquely Calvinian to a broader ecumenical Christian aspiration. But what prospects are there that even a more ecumenical rendition of Christian pluralism might appeal beyond the community of those who accept Christian presuppositions? And how­ legitimate would it be even to try to launch such an appeal? This question is taken up in Casanova’s important analysis of the role of public religion in secularized modernity.1 Casanova distills the prin­ cipal valid insight in secularization theory. It is not, he shows, the now widely challenged claim that under conditions of secular modernity religion inevitably undergoes processes of both “decline” and “privatization.” Recent evidence seems to demonstrate that neither are necessary outcomes of modernization. The valid insight in secularization theory is 306 Epilogue 307 rather that modernity is characterized by a process of institutional differentiation , which problematizes the authority and location of religion. A secularized society is one in which religion and its institutional embodiments no longer hold public sway over other sectors of society. But this does not imply, he argues, that religion has accepted or must accept marginalization to the private sphere: religion in the modern world is undergoing “deprivatization” and can still legitimately play a public role. Utilizing Weberian and Habermasian categories, Casanova proposes that the form of public influence appropriate to religion in the modern world is the offering of “normative critique” of the “amoral” spheres of the economy and state, from a location in civil society. Not only are established religions ultimately incompatible with the imperatives of modern differentiation , but former attempts by churches or religiously based political movements to operate directly at the level of the “state” or at the level of “political society” are incongruous with the reality of religious and cultural pluralism. The constraints of differentiation mean that effective normative religious discourse is likely to issue from a base in civil society alone. The experience of Dooyeweerd’s redoubtable forebear, Abraham Kuyper, is highly pertinent to an assessment of Casanova’s thesis. That experience (summarized in chapter 2) offers powerful support for Casanova ’s rejection of the claims about religious decline or religious privatization . Yet it also suggests that Casanova’s argument that the appropriate location of modern public religion is in civil society rather than state or political society need not follow. The neo-Calvinist movement under Kuyper’s leadership was a classic example of public religion under conditions of differentiation and religious pluralism. Yet it operated not only from within civil society (churches, educational, labor, and other social movements) but also at the level of political society as a Christian political party (the ARP) and at the state level as a partner in successive coalition governments. The Christian Democratic Party (CDA) into which the ARP was incorporated in 1980 still exists and continues to enter government . Although the CDA continues to have its very legitimacy questioned by some of its secularist political opponents, its continuing presence generates no evidence of inherent incongruity with the imperatives of a differentiated, religiously pluralist society. Indeed one of the distinctive policy emphases of the CDA remains precisely its defense of the legal 308 h e r m a n d o o y e w e e r d protection of religious pluralism in the face of policies advocated by secu­ larist parties that would have the effect of undermining such pluralism. It is true that Kuyper was certainly regarded as a divisive figure by his political and ecclesial foes, but, arguably, he was no more guilty of that charge than many of the prominent humanist liberals and socialists of his time. Indeed it could be suggested that he was less divisive in view of the fact that he...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780268076894
Related ISBN
9780268023058
MARC Record
OCLC
761233339
Pages
464
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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