Since the turn of the twenty-first century, there has been a remarkable surge of interest among both academics and policy makers in the effects that religion has on international aid and development. Within this broad field, the work of ‘religious NGOs’ or ‘Faith-Based Organisations’ (FBOs) has garnered considerable attention. This series of podcasts for The Religious Studies Project seeks to explore how the discourses, practices, and institutional forms of both religious actors and purportedly secular NGOs intersect, and how these engagements result in changes in our understanding of both ‘religion’ and ‘development’.
Politics and social institutions are inseparable. Whether we take a look at small-scale or complex societies, we can find that politics is involved with economics, kinship with hierarchy, and of course, religion with the state. In this podcast, Sidney Castillo interviews professor Marco Huaco Palomino as he addresses the nuances of secularity in several Latin American countries.
Some religion scholars got into studying the law through studying New Religious Movements (NRMs) or minority religions, as they tend to be treated differently under the law.
In this interview with Brad Stoddard, Professor Eric Mazur discusses a variety of issues relating to religion and law in the USA, such as the evolving state of First Amendment jurisprudence, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, dominant trends in the study of religion and American law.
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Increased attention to religion by international governments and NGOs has not necessarily resulted in less problematic models of religion being used by these governments and groups.
Surely we have moved past the idea of sinister cults brainwashing innocent victims? When it comes to the law, not so, Susan Palmer tells David G. Robertson.
“As Sullivan and other religious studies scholars complicate terms like religion and secularism, reducing these terms to near incoherence, and insist on the constant intermingling of the sacred and the secular, they leave jurists and legislators in a predicament with important practical consequences.”
Within modern American society the meme of a separation of Church and State exists without a doubt; however, there is very little evidence to actually prove that this separation exists, functions as such, or indeed that it ever existed. In the textbooks, popular news outlets and in the political arena religion is supposed to be wholly withheld-expelled in favor of majority rule. However, when we turn our attention to state-managed organizations such as the federal prisons or state forest services or support for military veterans, we find that the lines are blurred.
“In a way, when registering themselves, non-institutional religious groups take a step toward being more institutional and possibly even hierarchical – even if there is not much of hierarchy within the group to begin with.”
Contemporary Druidry often presents itself as the native spirituality of the British Isles. However, there is not one form of Druidry and there are also significant numbers of Christian and atheist Druids as well as those that combine Druidry with Wiccan or other perspectives and practices. From international organisations to local ‘groves’, there are diverse types of Druid groups, as well as lone practitioners. Chris and David are joined this week by Dr Suzanne Owen to talk in-depth about this fascinating subject, and its implications for wider understandings of the category ‘religion’.