We live in a secular age. Or so we are told. In fact, the real worlds of society, politics and social and political thought tell a very different story. Church attendance in many parts of the western world may be on the wane, but this is balanced by huge increases in church attendance in other parts of the world as well as the global rise of new, more ‘attractive’ forms of religious worship. In politics, the secular project has had, at best, patchy success. The formal separation of church and state is an outstanding achievement, but it is not always as clear-cut as may be desirable. This is exemplified by the extent to which religion forms the basis of most recent political conflicts. The events of 11 September 2001 and its aftermath in Iraq and elsewhere is only one example of this phenomenon; it is also an example of the extent to which religion and other aspects of politics and political psychology are interwoven. This fact is identified within the longstanding, if under-represented, position in social and political theory that points to the religious origins of modern political thought and agency. In a recent edition of Theoria, issue 106 (April 2005), Avishai Margalit and S. N. Eisenstadt provided compelling arguments in defense of this position.
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