Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

June 16th, 2017

Law and truth in the German religious constitution

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Acta Pacis WestphalicæIt is a widely held view that the juridical and political management of religion should be grounded in fundamental normative truth. Catholic communitarian and natural law doctrines are among the more evidently sectarian variants of this view, teaching that society should be understood as an association governed by the natural law goods that it must realize as virtues, and that law and state should govern in accordance with the values embedded in community or society.

Less evidently sectarian are those variants teaching that law and politics should be grounded in the free choices of rational individuals, whether this be understood in terms of the Lockean state acting as a trustee for individual rights, Immanuel Kant’s conception of public law as the exercise of power required to realize the a priori principle of individual right, or the latter-day improvisations on Kant found in John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas. Catholic commentary has rightly pointed to the Protestant character of these individualist-rationalist doctrines, although without first removing the sectarian beam from its own eye.

November 16th, 2015

A clash of secularisms? The German historical experience

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Claims made in the name of secularism vary greatly. At one extreme, self-described secularists in the United States portray their cause as the beleaguered defense of the separation of church and state. As their critics rightly point out, faith in naturalistic worldviews often bubbles up in the fuzzy definitions of secularism that underlie their advocacy. At the other extreme, political and critical theorists use the term as shorthand for a master theory of global modernity. They see secularism as a set of discourses, policies, and constitutional arrangements whereby modern states and liberal elites have sought to regulate religion and, in the process, have contributed to the “immanent frame” in which religion is now located. Rather than advocacy, they see their task as the demystification of secularism.

October 15th, 2015

Queer faiths: Can conversions uncover and unsettle racialized religion?

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Journalists, politicians and even scholars in Europe commonly use the word “Muslim” to refer not to religion, but to a person’s national origin, ethnicity, migration background, and incomplete membership in the national imaginary. This slippage happens as religion is used as an overarching category to speak about Maghrebi and Turkish migrants, and as immigration, Islam, and delinquency are consistently mentioned in the same breath, even in governmental studies. The conflation of religious and racial categories is important to understand because it pertains to a wider tendency of veiling anti-immigrant and racist sentiments in a language of cultural critique. It also makes one wonder whether the secular ideal of separating religion, culture, and politics is unfulfilled, if not hypocritical.

But how exactly does religion become akin to a racial category? And how can we unravel their association?

October 18th, 2012

Subjects, spirituality, and smoking: An interview with Hubert Knoblauch

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After discussing the general contours of the sociology of religion in Germany today (see part 1), I had a chance to ask Hubert Knoblauch about some of his own research. In recent years, Knoblauch, who works in the phenomenological tradition started by Alfred Schütz, has been preoccupied with spirituality, popular religion, and near-death experiences.

October 16th, 2012

The view from Berlin: An interview with Hubert Knoblauch

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Hubert Knoblauch is a professor of sociology at the Technical University of Berlin, where he specializes in general sociological theory, sociology of knowledge, and the sociology of religion. A student of Thomas Luckmann, he is among the most distinguished representatives of the sociology of religion in Germany today. This summer, we sat down together over some of Berlin’s famously bad Indian food to discuss the sociology of religion in Germany, the influence of Jürgen Habermas, the meaning of spirituality, and ways to quit smoking.

May 11th, 2012

Political and religious groups clash in Bonn

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Last Saturday, a regional political rally in the German city of Bonn turned violent as Salafists, followers of a conservative and literalist approach to Islam, fought with police protecting a political demonstration by the right-wing German group, Pro-North Rhine-Westphalia.

October 18th, 2011

American exceptionalism redux

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I find Kahn’s book as a whole less coherent than some others have. One issue I want to raise is the specter of American exceptionalism that haunts the book. Haunts, actually, may be too mild a word, since Kahn enthusiastically embraces the exceptional nature of American politics and law, and does so in absolutist terms (perhaps this is just the unfortunate sign of the legal mind at work, as is also the case in Schmitt).

May 5th, 2011

Angela Merkel chided for unchristlike comments

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Der Spiegel reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel is under fire for her allegedly unduly celebratory comments about the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

October 31st, 2010

“Leadership and Leitkultur”

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In The New York Times, Jürgen Habermas discusses the current political situation in Germany and the general challenge to liberal democracy enfolded in attempts to define and defend a national culture.

August 19th, 2010

Google, God, and the public

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Google’s attempt to bring its Street View service to Germany has met with strong opposition. Given the country’s history, the opposition feeds off many Germans’ wariness of encroachments upon their privacy—a wariness that Jeff Jarvis has called “something nearing a cultural obsession.” In this vein, a leading newspaper commented that “Google knows more about you and me than the KGB, Stasi or Gestapo ever dreamed of.” Not least among those opposing the Californian internet giant’s service are the German churches. Several Protestant churches have registered concerns, including the largest of the Landeskirchen, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover.

July 20th, 2010

Germany offers rehab for Islamic radicals

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USA Today reported yesterday on a novel tactic for combating Islamic radicalism now being implemented in Germany.

April 30th, 2010

The crucifix controversy and the contradictions of German secularism

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Last week, the prime minister of Lower Saxony, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), replaced several ministers in his cabinet. The new holder of the portfolio that includes social, health, and family policy, women’s affairs, and integration, is a 38-year-old woman called Aygül Özkan, also a Christian Democrat. She is not only the first minister of Turkish descent to serve in a German state government, but also the first Muslim to hold an executive office at this level in Germany. What does the reaction to her first public statements reveal about the nature of German secularism?

April 27th, 2010

A right to home-school?

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At Miller-McCune, Michael Scott Moore reports on a German family that was granted asylum by a federal immigration judge in Tennessee, who found they “were at risk of persecution by German authorities because they wanted to home-school their kids.” The family was represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association, which took on the case “in the name of homeschoolers around the world.”Although the organization argues that the “Western nation should uphold basic human rights, which include allowing parents to raise and educate their own children,” Moore seeks to contextualize Germany’s schooling policy in light of these claims.