The Creationist Attack on Science and Secular Society

by Daniel G. BlackburnThomas S. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Biology at Trinity College, Hartford

In 1925, John Scopes was put on trial in Dayton, Tennessee, for mentioning the idea of evolution in a biology class that he taught at the local high school. The trial became a media circus, and gained national attention because of what it seemed to represent—a clash of science vs. fundamentalist religion, a conflict between local autonomy and national interests, and an intellectual battle between two great orators, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan. John Scopes was found guilty and fined, but the verdict was overturned on a technicality— an anticlimactic outcome to the historic conflict.

The Creationist Attack on Science and Secular Society

Public Opinion and Support for the Separation of Church and State in the U.S. and Europe


by Barry A. Kosmin, Research Professor in the Public Policy & Law Program at Trinity College and Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture

The idea of separating the institutions of the state, government and public life from the direct involvement and influence of organized religion arose during the Enlightenment. It became a feasible proposition as a result of the two great revolutions of the 18th century. In fact the American and French revolutions produced two intellectual and constitutional traditions of secularism and the secular state – a “soft secularism” and a “hard secularism”. Canadians, of course, rejected both these revolutions and so historically they are heirs to the Lockean tradition of religious toleration rather than of secularism per se.

Public Opinion and Support for the Separation of Church and State in the U.S. and Europe

Secularization Versus the Weight of Catholic Tradition among Spanish Women

by Sofia Rodriguez Lopez, Research Fellow, History, Geography and Art History Department, Universidad de Almería (Spain)

In order to measure the presence of secularism in Spain we must, first of all, consider the influence and impact of religion, in this case the established Roman Catholic Church, on civil society and public institutions, particularly as they affect the status of women. Then we shall analyze this problem by looking at the historical development of public services such as education and public health, which are traditionally considered to be the domain of the Church, and how they have undergone a process of secularization. Finally, we will determine the current relationship between women and the Catholic faith in Spain at the individual and collective levels.

Secularization Versus the Weight of Catholic Tradition among Spanish Women

The Ambiguous Position of French Muslim Women: Between Republican Integration and Religious Claims

by Camille Froidevaux-Metterie, Maître de conférences en science politique (Associate Professor of Political Science) at Universite Paris II Pantheon-Assas

The “veils quarrel”—also known as the “scarf affair”—is a useful point of entry into the problem of laïcité in France today, not only because of its topicality, but also because the issue epitomizes the challenge to which the French State, in its secular form, is confronted. When approaching the problem of some young veiled girls in the public schools, our country must consider the five million Muslims who live in France, half of whom have obtained French citizenship. Despite the fact that the right to family reunification—given to immigrants in 1976—has recently been repealed, and also that President Nicolas Sarkozy wants the process to be restricted, we must keep in mind that its implementation has entailed the permanent settling of hundreds of thousands of families, whose children, whether born in France or not, do not want to go back to the country of origin of their parents. Contrary to what was expected—i.e., that the immigrants, who arrived in the 1950s to participate in the industrial boom would go back home once their work was finished—there is a strong trend towards permanent settlement.

The Ambiguous Position of French Muslim Women: Between Republican Integration and Religious Claims

The Ambiguous State: Gender and Citizenship in Algeria

by Boutheina Cheriet, Professor in Comparative Education and Research Methodology, University of Algiers;Former Deputy Minister in Charge of the Family & Women’s Affairs, Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria.

What is the best way to examine the problem of citizenship and gender in the emergence of civil society and its dialectical relationship with a monolithic state in Algeria? One way is to analyze the Algerian debates over personal status in order to capture the nature of the relationship that links the triad of state, civil society and citizenship. This allows us to investigate the ambivalence that characterizes the nature of the state and women’s access to citizenship.

The Ambiguous State: Gender and Citizenship in Algeria.

Social Indicators of Secularization in Italy

by Silvia Sansonetti, Researcher at the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’; Scientific Director of the ‘Observatory on Secularization’ project sponsored by the Critica Liberale Foundation and CGIL

Secularization is a multidimensional and complex social process. The Critica Liberale Foundation and the CGIL (the largest Italian trade union) Sezione Nuovi Diritti have jointly sponsored research on the secularization process in Italy since 2005. The results, which are presented in this paper, have been published yearly in a special volume called Quaderno Laico of the Critica Liberale, the Foundation’s review, together with the complete data-base.

Social Indicators of Secularization in Italy.

Women and Demography in the Mediterranean States

by Ariela Keysar, Associate Research Professor in Public Policy and Law and the Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College.

The goal of this chapter, drawing on recent statistics collected by the United Nations, is to explore the extent to which state secularism and private secularity across a range of Mediterranean states affect the socioeconomic status of women through the mediating factor of demographic processes, mainly reproductive patterns.

Women and Demography in the Mediterranean States.

Algeria: Prospects for an Islamic or a Secular State

by Kada Akacem, Professor of Economics at the University of Algiers; President of the Scientific Council of the Faculty of Economic Sciences.

What are the prospects for an Islamic state in Algeria nowadays? Before we can answer that question, we must first understand the political, economic, and social developments that have recently taken place in Algeria. These events will shed some light on the decline of the Islamist movements.

Algeria: Prospects for an Islamic or a Secular State.

Israel: The Challenge of a Democratic and Jewish State

by Asher Arian, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Politics, City University of New York Graduate School; Scientific Director of the Guttman Center of Applied Social Research, Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem.

Upon his election as Israel’s president in June 2007, Shimon Peres, twice prime minister of Israel, Nobel laureate for peace, former head of the Socialist International, and former head of Israel’s Labor Party, did two things. First, he went to the Western Wall of the Temple in the Old City of Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest site, and second, he paid a call to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual head of Shas, one of Israel’s non-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox parties. The contrasts in this story illuminate the anomalies of religion in Israeli public life. Where are the boundaries? What is Jewish? What is religious behavior? Can one survive politically without paying homage to religious leaders and espousing religious sentiments? What could the word secular mean in that type of context: Non-religious? Anti-religious? Impervious to religion? Without religion?

Israel: The Challenge of a Democratic and Jewish State.

Lebanon: Confessionalism and the Crisis of Democracy

by Hassan Krayem, Policy Specialist and Governance Programme Manager, UNDP, Lebanon; Lecturer in the Political Studies and Public Administration Department, American University of Beirut

This paper addresses the questions of why and how the process of state building in Lebanon failed, and to what extent this failure can be attributed to its confessional, consociational model of democracy, the role of the ruling elite, or external factors. It also addresses the prospects for an alternative constitutional model and for the creation of a secular democratic state.

Lebanon: Confessionalism and the C risis of Democracy.