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After Pluralism

After Pluralism: Reimagining Religious Engagement

Courtney Bender
Pamela E. Klassen
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    After Pluralism
    Book Description:

    The contributors to this volume treat pluralism as a concept that is historically and ideologically produced or, put another way, as a doctrine that is embedded within a range of political, civic, and cultural institutions. Their critique considers how religious difference is framed as a problem that only pluralism can solve. Working comparatively across nations and disciplines, the essays in After Pluralism explore pluralism as a "term of art" that sets the norms of identity and the parameters of exchange, encounter, and conflict. Contributors locate pluralism's ideals in diverse sites-Broadway plays, Polish Holocaust memorials, Egyptian dream interpretations, German jails, and legal theories-and demonstrate its shaping of political and social interaction in surprising and powerful ways. Throughout, they question assumptions underlying pluralism's discourse and its influence on the legal decisions that shape modern religious practice. Contributors do more than deconstruct this theory; they tackle what comes next. Having established the genealogy and effects of pluralism, they generate new questions for engaging the collective worlds and multiple registers in which religion operates.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52726-2
    Subjects: Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Habits of Pluralism
    (pp. 1-28)

    Throughout the world, “Parliaments of Religion” are no longer experiments held at a World’s Fair but instead are everyday assemblies occurring in schools, hospitals, and city streets throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. At the same time, combatants in new “wars of religion” base their legitimacy on claims to defend religious traditions or worldviews, in such diverse places as Pakistan, Nigeria, and (in a less overtly militarized zone) Washington, D.C. Religion is proliferating; academics, journalists, and policymakers increasingly take religion as a subject of inquiry, and laypeople of all sorts consider it a rubric by which to understand shifting social...

  5. Part I. Law, Normativity, and the Constitution of Religion

      (pp. 31-58)

      It seems there could not be a better time to consider the status of pluralism, particularly of religious pluralism, in the United States. The election of President Barack Obama in 2008 has been taken by some commentators to mean that the United States is “post-racial” and perhaps we could say “post-pluralism,” given Obama’s multiracial parentage and extended family as formed by his siblings. However, other commentators, such as former CNN host Lou Dobbs, continue to complain about the supposedly lenient policies of the U.S. government toward immigration, and immigration reform is not a policy on which the Obama administration is...

    • 2. PLURALIZING RELIGION: Islamic Law and the Anxiety of Reasoned Deliberation
      (pp. 59-81)

      The authors in this volume remind us not only of the theme of this collection but also of a major challenge in our world today: Religious pluralism is here to stay. As a demographic fact, it is everywhere, as Winnifred Sullivan writes. But of interest in this volume is how religious pluralism is not merely a descriptive label. Rather, it is a term of art that is used to raise various questions about the potential for conflict and peace and about the best modes for good governance. In their introduction to this volume, Pamela Klassen and Courtney Bender remind us...

    • 3. RELIGION NATURALIZED: The New Establishment
      (pp. 82-97)

      In Anglo-American legal studies, the study of religion has been traditionally marginalized, as has been the study of law within religious studies. Religion has been confined in the study of law largely to what has been called church–state studies, a subdiscipline that combined attention to the history of institutional relations in Europe and its colonies with an elaboration of the evolving jurisprudence of legal protection for religious freedom as a feature of human rights. For the most part, those studies have assumed as normative the modern state as secular and the relevant religious communities as the Protestant churches, now...

      (pp. 98-124)

      The success of the rhetoric of legal multiculturalism has clouded our capacity to see clearly the true nature of the relationship between religious diversity and the constitutional rule of law. Legal multiculturalism has held that, in a society characterized by deep cultural pluralism, the role of the law is to operationalize a political commitment to multiculturalism by serving as custodian and wielder of the twin key tools of tolerance and accommodation. In the context of religious difference, this commitment has translated into a prevailing juridical wisdom that freedom of religion is a hallmark of the liberal constitutional order and that...

  6. Part II. Performing Religion After Pluralism

      (pp. 127-155)

      On Armistice Day, November 11, 1938, Kate Smith sang “God Bless America” for the first time on her CBS radio program, recorded live at the New York World’s Fair. The song was instantly popular. Smith continued to sing it on every one of her radio broadcasts for the next year, she recorded it with RCA in 1939, the lyrics were introduced into the Congressional Record, and it has long been considered an alternative national anthem.¹ The song remains central to American popular culture today and experienced a renewed burst of popularity after September 11, 2001, when congressmen, Broadway performers, baseball...

    • 6. THE PERILS OF PLURALISM: Colonization and Decolonization in American Indian Religious History
      (pp. 156-177)

      In Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation, Osage theologian George E. Tinker (2004:4) argues with bitter realism as well as a sense of hope for a theology of American Indian liberation that “remember[s] the past in order to dream the future.” The process of creating such a theology must originate from within Indian communities, Tinker claims, guided by Indian people. “Our past and our future,” he writes, “have been consistently signified for us—by missionaries, by anthropologists and other university academics, by government bureaucrats.” Remembering and engaging the history and legacy of colonialism is a necessary part...

    • 7. A MATTER OF INTERPRETATION: Dreams, Islam, and Psychology in Egypt
      (pp. 178-200)

      Al-Hagg Ahmad, an Egyptian in his eighties, once told me about his encounter with a group of German doctors who insisted that dreams are meaningless. “You in the West are the children of Freud and of Nietzsche!” al-Hagg Ahmad responded to them. “But we as Muslims have to believe in dreams. If you don’t believe in dreams, you’re not a Muslim.” I heard such claims frequently in Egypt, where many assert that Western and Islamic epistemes are entirely incompatible. In the case of dreams, such claims at first sight seem to make sense. Reviving the Aristotelian verdict that dreams have...

    • 8. THE TEMPLE OF RELIGION AND THE POLITICS OF RELIGIOUS PLURALISM: Judeo-Christian America at the 1939–1940 New York World’s Fair
      (pp. 201-222)

      On the last Sunday in April 1939, opening day of the New York World’s Fair, many of New York’s civic and religious leaders gathered in the exposition’s Temple of Religion to herald their vision of an America where religion would become a force for tolerance and mutual respect. The spirit of inclusion and collaboration was captured in the temple’s motto, “For All Who Worship God and Prize Religious Freedom,” engraved on the temple’s entablature, visible to guests as they ascended a flight of stairs and into a building that one prominent supporter dubbed “The Cathedral of the American People.” The...

  7. Part III. The Ghosts of Pluralism:: Unintended Consequences of Institutional and Legal Constructions

      (pp. 225-251)

      The concerns of this volume are particularly visible in contemporary efforts by Native American communities to secure freedom for sacred practices, beliefs, places, objects, and ancestors within the U.S. legal regime. Since the early twentieth century, as Native peoples were forcibly and legally assimilated into the polity and economy of the United States, and as their indigenous traditions were discouraged and in many cases criminalized, Native activists and leaders have made strategic efforts to render their traditions in the language of the law as religion in order to find protections for their continuation as distinctive peoples and culture (Wenger 2009)....

    • 10. SAVING DARFUR: Enacting Pluralism in Terms of Gender, Genocide, and Militarized Human Rights
      (pp. 252-276)

      On a December evening in 2006, shrieking rape whistles pierced the air outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C. Mobilized by the Save Darfur Coalition (SDC) and its partners, the whistle blowers and other activists demanded intervention to halt certain incidents of sexual violence that followed rebel insurgencies and a government counterinsurgency in western Sudan. Appealing to international treaties created after the Holocaust and atrocities of the 1990s, and contesting the 2005 UN Security Council conclusion that the conflict did not constitute genocide, the SDC argued that “rape and sexual violence [are] used as a tool of genocide” in Darfur....

    • 11. WHAT IS RELIGIOUS PLURALISM IN A “MONOCULTURAL” SOCIETY? Considerations from Postcommunist Poland
      (pp. 277-295)

      What does pluralism mean in a society whose citizens are 96 percent ethnically Polish and 95 percent Catholic?¹ And what is religious pluralism in a society where 96 percent of citizens declare that they believe in God and 75 percent participate in religious services at least once a month?² If one were to look only at these statistics, Poland would appear to be a monocultural society where the issue of religious pluralism simply does not exist. But as expected with many descriptive statistics, as soon as we scratch beneath the surface of the numbers, we find a very different picture,...

      (pp. 296-316)

      At the margins of a small town in Brandenburg, the region surrounding Berlin, there is a prison with a bloody past.¹ It is a recent building, constructed in the early days of the Nazi regime as one of the most modern prisons in Europe, meant to hold about 1,800 inmates. During the war, it was occupied by about three times as many people. They were mostly exploited to build weapons. Thousands of inmates were executed in this prison during the war, and hundreds died of diseases (Wachsmann 2004). The German Democratic Republic (GDR) uncannily continued to use the building as...

    (pp. 317-324)
    (pp. 325-330)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 331-342)