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?
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.
by Binnaz Toprak, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey
In April 2007 and the months that followed, there were several demonstrations, organized by NGOs, against what the demonstrators perceived as a serious threat to the secular foundations of the Turkish Republic. Directed against the policies of the ruling AKP government, and in particular its stand on the election of a new President, these demonstrations were a few weeks apart, the ﬁrst held in the capital city of Ankara, the second held in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, followed by others in various Anatolian towns. Although estimates diﬀer over the number of demonstrators—between 300,000 and one million people attended the Istanbul meeting—everyone agreed that these demonstrations, with their endless rows of crowds, were the largest in the history of the Republic. In the aftermath of events, the foreign press reported that the demonstrations revealed the division of the country into “two Turkeys.”
by Barry A. Kosmin, Research Professor in Public Policy and Law and founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College
Secularism and its variants are terms much discussed today, paradoxically as a consequence of religion seeming to have become more pervasive and inﬂuential in public life and society worldwide. This situation poses a number of questions. First, a deﬁnitional one: What are the spheres of secularity and secularism? According to our understanding secularity refers to individuals and their social and psychological characteristics and behavior while secularism refers to the realm of social institutions.
by Barry A. Kosmin, Research Professor in Public Policy and Law and founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College & 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
This volume grew out of a salon or conversazione on the theme of “The Prospects for the Secular State in the Mediterranean World in the 21st Century” hosted by ISSSC—the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture. The event took place during June 2007 at Trinity College’s campus located on the historic and beautiful Aventine Hill in Rome, Italy. The purpose of this gathering was to assemble a diverse group of people from diﬀerent Mediterranean nations, academic disciplines and professions for a relaxed, multi-cultural exchange of information and opinion on one of the key political and intellectual questions of the moment, one which is on the agenda today in one way or another in every country in the Mediterranean region. How should the state and government respond to diversity of beliefs and worldviews in today’s society?
by Adrienne Fulco, Associate Professor and Director of the Public Policy and Law Program at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut
Scholars who compare European and American political parties have custom-arily characterized the two major American political parties as distinctly non-ideological coalitions of voters who come together every four years to nominate and elect a president. Nicol C. Rae recently observed that “[i]n the comparative study of political parties in twentieth century advanced democracies, the United States has always been something of a problematic outlier owing to the absence of organized, disciplined, and ideological mass political parties.” Moreover, according to Rae, when compared with other advanced industrial democracies, “American national parties have traditionally been decentralized, loosely organized, and undisciplined, with party cleavages based on cultural or regional factors rather than social class divisions.” But today, according to researchers who have explored the problem of polarization in American politics since the 1980s, there is now “widespread agreement that the Democratic and Republican parties in the electorate have become more sharply divided on ideology and policy issues in recent decades.” Commentators agree that among the factors most responsible for the sharpening of distinctions between the two parties has been the infusion of white, Protestant, conservative, religiously motivated voters into the Republican Party. Thus, not only have American political parties become more ideologically oriented, but they have also come to resemble more closely the European model, in which parties represent distinct religious and secular constituencies.
by Frances Raday, Professor of Law: Elias Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Director of the Concord Research Institute for Integration of International Law in Israel, at Colman College of Management and Academic Studies; Chair of the Israeli Association of Feminist and Gender Studies
This chapter focuses on the confrontation between religious and constitutional authority, as it aﬀects the rights to freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and gender and ethnic equality. It will analyze the Supreme Court’s reviews of decisions made by religious authorities. As background, I will ﬁrst discuss the way in which constitutional norms should, as a matter of constitutional principle, deal with clashes between the right to culture or religion, on one hand, and the right to equality and freedom of conscience and religion, on the other. I will then seek to measure the Court’s jurisprudence within this conceptual framework. In order to determine which principles should govern the role of constitutional law in regulating the interaction between religious values and equality, I shall examine the theoretical arguments supporting deference to cultural or religious values over universal values. ose arguments, I shall contend, must not prevail. ere are various situations in which constitutionalism must cope with claims for deference to religious authority. The boundaries of a religious culture will not necessarily be coextensive with the constitutional realm. Within the constitutional realm, there may be a dominant religious culture and minority subcultures, or there may be a mosaic of subcultures. Furthermore, even in a religiously homogeneous society, the imposition of religious norms may vary at the levels of family, workplace and church/mosque/synagogue. There may be a diﬀerent appreciation of the applicability of the norms in each of these institutional frameworks.
by Mine Eder, Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations at Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey
Religion and Islam have long been powerful political instruments for most of the center-right parties in Turkey. Parties on the left—and the People’s Republican Party, in particular—have used secularism, and strict separation of Islam and the state, as the fundamental platform to get votes. This paper will argue that behind the secularism debate that has continued for two decades in Turkey lies the utter failure of both sides to address and solve the classic issues of political economy: rising unemployment and poverty, declining incomes in the countryside, and the failure of the state to provide basic public services such as education and health care. While issues such as headscarves, the status of religious schools, and alcohol consumption occupy the country’s social and political agenda, the most crucial issues have been left out of the public discussion. The fact that issues such as poverty, inequality, and social/economic exclusion require basic structural policy and priority changes can also explain why both sides might prefer quick appeals to their constituencies through debates on secularism. This paper suggests that a host of factors—depoliticization of the economic issues since the 1980s against a backdrop of premature economic liberalization in Turkey; the “obsession with identity politics” rather than economic issues as a global trend, particularly since 9/11; and the absence of a genuinely social democratic platform in the country, despite lip service from both the Islamists and the so-called leftists—can be blamed for the crucial absence of such political economy issues from Turkey’s political agenda.
by Barry A. Kosmin, Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture and Research Professor, Public Policy and Law Program at Trinity College, Hartford & Juhem Navarro-Rivera, Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC).
Embedded in modernity is the idea that science is a major building block of the secular worldview, and that the progress of science is, de facto, the triumph of the secular worldview. This outlook arises from the close historical, philosophical, and intellectual relationship between the natural sciences and secular ideas and values. Both secular and scientifc values were entrenched within the Enlightenment project of emancipating humanity and actualizing the highest human potentials through the diffusion of knowledge. These goals, in turn, became linked to the quest for liberty, freedom of thought, and popular sovereignty—and thus democracy. The triadic relationship of secular values, scientifc literacy, and social and economic progress, and their role as the building blocks of democracy in the United States, is the subject of this chapter. Our purpose is to demonstrate that particularly in the 21st century, in order to achieve a prosperous society and a healthy, participatory democratic order based on secular values, a high degree of science literacy among the citizenry is necessary.
by Jeffrey Burkhart, Professor of Ethics and Policy Studies in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences of the University of Florida
For decades, people in the Science Establishment have lamented the lack of scientifc literacy among the American public. Their concern reached a tipping point in the early 1990s, when educators and organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Center for Educational Progress (NCEP), the National Academies of Science/National Research Council (NAS/NRC), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) began concerted efforts to improve science literacy. Despite some success, however, the Science Establishment still has concerns: Even though the percentage of degrees (BS, MS, and Ph.D.) in Science and Engineering has remained constant, and even though, contrary to anecdotal evidence, foreign-born students have not displaced U.S. citizens and resident aliens in most of the S&E programs in U.S. universities, we are again talking about scientifc literacy. Why does the Science Establishment believe that serious, ongoing efforts at promoting scientifc literacy are once again necessary?