Secularization, Liberalism and the Problematic Role 1of Religion in Modern Societies*
Secularización, liberalismo y el rol problemático de la religión en las sociedades modernas
Contents: I. Introduction.—II. Secularization and secularism.— III. The liberal tradition as an unquestioned, invisible framework.—IV. A proposal about the way that social phenomena linked to religion could be approached.—V. The connection between some of the factors identified above and the upsurge of populist right-wing movements.—VI. Conclu- sion.—VII. References.
Abstract: This paper argues that there is a defective understanding of the sociological secularization process and a liberal tradition that takes for granted many problematic notions and subtly determines the logic of the debate on reli- gion in modern societies. While the two issues are not causal factors for the rise of radical right-wing populist movements, they constitute the framework within which the debates on ethno-religious pluralism and its relationship with poli- tics take place. These two unresolved questions hinder a good understanding of the complexity of social phenomena related to religion in contemporary West- ern societies such as fundamentalism, terrorism, political Islam or the claims of other religious groups to participate in the public sphere. In order to achieve the above goals, the article focuses on four interconnected points. The first briefly reviews secularization theory and secularism as an ideology. The second consti- tutes a questioning of the liberal framework. The third proposes a particular way of approaching those social phenomena linked to religion. The paper concludes broadly examining the factors related to religion that feed right-wing populist movements.
Keywords: Secularism, liberalism, right-wing populism, political Islam.