Report: Seminar “Secularization, Religion, State” Session 6

29 June, 2008 Secularization, Religion, State

 On 23rd June, we held the sixth session of the Seminar “Secularization, Religion, and State.”

 In this session, we have two presentations based on several articles included in Naoki Ohnishi and Shin Chiba (eds.) The Separation of Church and State: its English Origin and American Development (Sairyu-sha, 2006: in Japanese) .
 Through the first presentation (presented by N. Tase) based on the three articles (“Introduction” by Shin Chiba, “The Political Structure and the Separation of Church and State” by Makoto Saito, and “The Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom of Religious Belief in America at the turn of independence” by Naoki Ohnishi) in the book, we deepened our knowledge about the development of the separation of church and state in England in the 17th century and in America at the turn of independence.
 In our discussion after this presentation, we focused on discussing the validity of using the term “secularization” as an analytical term in the study of American religious history. As counterargument against the presenter’s negative view on its validity, an attendant of this seminar suggested that the separation between “church” and “state” itself is a part of secularization process.

 The second presentation (presented by A. Ohno) is based on the following three articles: “the Role of Religion in the Democratic Society: Tocqueville’s view about Religion” by Chisako Hara, “Fundamentalism and the Separation of Church and State” by Shizuyo Masui, and “The Relationships between Politics and Religion in Contemporary America” by Shin Chiba. These articles reveals America’s present situation in which religious fundamentalism gains predominant position among the people through TV preachers and “Para-church”, which emerges outside the existing “church”. And they also indicated that the declining position of the existing “church” because of no influential public speakers inside the existing “church”.
 The presenter (A. Ohno) criticized that these articles do not analyze the expansion of religious fundamentalism through TV preachers and “Para-church” from the same point of view, in spite of defining the book as a joint research, and that they regarded revitalizing theology and philosophy as a countermeasure against the expansion of religious fundamentalism.
 In our discussion, attendants of the seminar indicated that TV preachers also play an important role in other countries like France and Egypt and suggested that we should pay our attention to their role in promoting religious revivalism. Another attendant of the seminar suggested that religious revivalism among American people does not necessarily influence over their political decision.

Reported by Satoshi Katsunuma

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