Berger: Further Thoughts on Religion and Modernity.

Liberal critics maintain that, as a matterof intellectual history, this is not correct. Proponents ofbroadly Scotistic or anti-theistic views, according to thinkers such asStout, never had the numbers or clout to change the world asdramatically as New Traditionalists claim. In fact, if Stout iscorrect, there is a counter-narrative to tell that is at least asplausible as the one that New Traditionalists champion. Accordingto this counter-narrative, we should distinguish two types ofsecularism: on the one hand, there is secularism as understood by thestandard view, which tells us that appeal to religious reasons inpublic political discourse is insufficient to justify coercivelaws. On the other, there is broadly pluralistic secularism,which tells us merely that participants in public political discourseare not in a position to assume that their interlocutors are making thesame religious assumptions that they are. Stout maintains thatliberal democracy is committed only to secularism of the secondsort. Indeed, even critics of the standard view who affirmliberal democracy on religious grounds, such as Wolterstorff, grantthat liberal democracy is secular in Stout's second, pluralisticsense. Certainly, the liberal critics maintain, there is nothingabout liberalism that commits it to a version of secularism in whichthe liberal state is an anti-Christian ecclesia or an alternate vehiclefor salvation, as some New Traditionalists have claimed (see, forexample, Milbank, et al. 1999, 192).

Berger Peter_Reflections on the Sociology of Religion Today will be available on

To this point, we have been primarily concerned to articulate thestandard view and lay out the response offered to it by its liberalcritics. We have emphasized that there are important differencesbetween these two views. While not trivial, these differences shouldnot be exaggerated, however. Both views are deeply committed to thecore components of liberal democracy, including the protection ofbasic freedoms such as the freedom to practice religion as one seesfit. Furthermore, both views recognize the legitimacy of religiousreasons in political deliberation, noting the role of such reasons inimportant social movements such as the civil rights movement. The maindifference between advocates of the standard view and their liberalcritics, we've contended, is how they view thejustificatory role of these reasons. That said, the liberalcritics are not the only or even the most influential critics of thestandard view. Indeed, if the central argument of Jeffrey Stout'sbook Democracy and Tradition is correct, the standard viewhas generated a worrisome backlash among prominent Christiantheologians and political theorists. These theologians and politicaltheorists, who Stout labels the New Traditionalists, rejectnot only the standard view, but also liberal democracy assuch—their assumption being that the standard view is a more orless inevitable outgrowth of liberal democracy. In spite of theirfairly radical position, Stout contends that these thinkers need to betaken seriously by the friends of democracy, as they exerciseconsiderable influence in certain sectors of the academy and theculture at large.


pETER BERGER-Secularization Falsified.

The theory holds that .Secularization, R.I.P., then gets into specifics.

In their "supply-side re-interpretation of the 'secularization' of Europe," Starke and Iannaccone (1994) suggest that modern Eu- rope is actually more Christian than was Me- dieval Europe. To support this claim, they invoke the work of two French scholars, the sociologist, Le Bras, and the historian, Delumeau. Pointing to the prevalence of "pa- gan" practices and beliefs among the medi- eval populace, Le Bras (1955-1956) and Delumeau ([I97 11 1977) argued that Europe was not really Christianized until after the Reformation, an argument that seems to con- firm the ascending image of Western reli- gious development. Over the last 20 years, however, medieval and early-modern histo- rians have produced a growing body of evi- dence that suggests that the Le Bras-Delumeau thesis is both exaggerated and simplistic. The evidence strongly suggests that the Middle Ages were rather more Chris- tian, and the early-modern period rather less Christian, than Le Bras and Delumeau have allowed. And the evidence further reveals forms of religio-cultural change that are not captured by the concept of "Christianiza- tion." Here, I review the evidence against the Le Bras-Delumeau thesis, and argue that the Protestant Reformation is best understood as a process of religious and cultural rational- ization. I begin with a review of the medi- eval historiography.
Historical Critique I: The Curious Fall and Partial Rise of the "Golden Age" Thesis


Remembering Peter Berger - Ethics & Public Policy Center

[PROB-30%][/PROB] Is the United States a Counterexample to the Secularization Thesis?1 David Voas University College London Mark Chaves Duke University Virtually every discussion.1 2 An Interview with Peter Berger Charles T.

Peter Berger on secularization and relativism.

Advocates of the standard view willbe troubled by Rick's behavior. The relevantly troubling featureof Rick's behavior is not primarily his decision to support thisparticular policy. Rather, it is his decision to support a policythat he believes others have no good reason, from their perspective, toendorse. After all, Rick votes to enact a law that authorizes state coercion eventhough he believes that the only plausible rationale for that decisionincludes religious claims that many of his compatriots find utterlyunpersuasive. In so doing, Rick violates a normative constraintat the heart of the standard view, viz., that citizens in a pluralisticliberal democracy ought to refrain from using their political influenceto authorize coercive laws that, to the best of their knowledge, can bejustified only on religious grounds and so lack a plausiblesecular rationale.[]Or, otherwise put, Rick violates the DRR. For the DRR tells usthat, if a citizen is trying to determine whether or not she shouldsupport some coercive law, and if she believes that there is noplausible secular rationale for that law, then she may not supportit.