CENS Seminar on The Christian Right and its Impact on the Secular State by Professor Christian Joppke, CENS Distinguished Visiting Fellow
In comparative perspective, the American religion-state regime is generally considered as strictly separationist, with a “wall of separation” keeping religion and state apart. In this lecture, I trace a recent move away from this toward a European-style “modest establishment”, in which religion and state cooperate in the fulfillment of important social functions. The mechanism for bringing about this change has been an increasingly conservative Supreme Court that has partially incorporated the agenda of the Christian Right. However, the attack on separationism was differently successful in different domains. The greatest success has been with respect to access to public resources, where the wall of separation has been “breached”. With respect to religious symbols in the public square, I argue, the wall has merely been “battered”. This is because the state can align itself with religion only indirectly, by secularizing it as culture and tradition. These developments are briefly contrasted with religions-state relations in Europe, which have moved in the opposite direction, from vestigial establishment to stronger forms of separation.
About the speaker:
Christian Joppke holds a chair in sociology at the University of Bern (CH). He is also a Visiting Professor in the Nationalism Studies Program at Central European University, Budapest, and an Honorary Professor in the Department of Political Science and Government at Aarhus University (Denmark). He is Member of the German Expert Council on Integration and Migration (SVR). After earning his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California at Berkeley in 1989, Joppke held professorial appointments at the University of Southern California, European University Institute, University of British Columbia (Vancouver), International University Bremen, and the American University of Paris. He also held visiting fellowships at Georgetown University and the Russell Sage Foundation in New York. He is the author of nine books, most recently Legal Integration of Islam (with John Torpey) (Harvard UP 2013), The Secular State Under Siege: Religion and Politics in Europe and America (Cambridge: Polity 2015), and Is Multiculturalism Dead? Crisis and Persistence in the Constitutional State (Cambridge: Polity 2017). Joppke is a leading authority in the comparative study of immigration policies, citizenship, multiculturalism, and religion.
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