Europe must open up to new ideas about the secular state
Since so few democracies meet any standard of political secularism, political secularism is either not Online Publication Date: Jan Go to page: Page of. CrossRef citations to date Indian Nationalism and the Gandhi–Nehru View of Secularism India's democratic institutions, particularly coalition politics, have moderated the BJP's radical policy goals. .. This political strategy alienated the RSS, which in turn supported Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress party in the But before focusing on the contemporary Brazilian scenario, let us briefly go .. the construction of secularism went hand in hand with the construction of nationality. In Law and Democracy, Habermas () suggests that in post- World War II religion (which has been granted a celebrative date in the national calendar).
However, it did include a small but significant change to the article concerning the protection of 'free external manifestation of faith' Art. It suppressed the references to 'public order' and 'good morals' as limits to the practice of religious worship.
We believe that this suppression expresses the understanding that Spiritism and Afro-Brazilian practices had become, over the previous fifty years, widely accepted as unequivocally religious activities that should therefore have the full right of public expression.
We could therefore conclude that the Constitution represents a milestone concerning the widening of the notion of religion on the part of the State by recognizing practices that were previously subject to criminalization as fully religious, and by accepting religious pluralism as a right that demands respect for differences of belief and the defense of freedom of worship.
Paradoxically, the dispute over the very concept of secularism was exacerbated exactly when religious pluralism and its rights were recognized.
Increase in the competition between possible creeds and the incorporation of the idea of the free manifestation of opinions as an individual right multiply the different positions regarding practices that may be considered acceptable or not within a secular State. As far as religious pluralism is concerned, Evangelical growth has increased the perception of religious diversity, as has already been mentioned, and the conflict between Neo-Pentecostals and Afro-Brazilian religions has place the right to the manifestation of worship at the core of the dispute.
In reality, it seems that the institutionalization of religious pluralism as a legal issue and social practice has been paradoxically stimulated by the very expansion of Pentecostalism.
In fact, by publicly demonizing other forms of worship in the name of 'truth' and 'sin,' 19 some sectors of the Neo-Pentecostal movement resort to a dogmatic language similar to the language of Catholic priests in their campaigns against Umbanda in the s in order to circumscribe religious frontiers and expand their symbolic domain over Afro-Spiritist manifestations. But what was then accepted by public opinion without much scandal now causes a profound confrontation of opinions.
In fact, as is shown by Milton Bortoleto's investigation in progress, organized religious leaders have drawn on the anti-racist law that actions undertaken in the name of the 'true religion' should be understood as prejudiced and typified as criminal. Secularism and the ethical foundation of the State While there have been no significant changes in the law on secularism, the Executive has produced new policy directives, particularly in the version of the federal government's National Program for Human Rights.
The document expressed demands from both secular and religious sectors and included a measure that aimed to develop actions "to preclude the ostensive display of religious symbols in the Union's public buildings as a way of promoting the secularism of the State as well as respect for differences of faith and worship" Giumbelli The proposal did not last long: It revealed the distinction between secularism understood as the legal separation of State and Church and secularism understood as the secular self-representation of nationality, a distinction that is deeply ingrained in the imagination of various sectors of the Brazilian society.
In the reverse direction of the National Human Rights Program, the growth of Evangelical churches challenges the Catholic imagination for greater influence in public life. The episode in which sculptures were broken by a Neo-Pentecostal youth at a Spiritist center described in the press in provides a good illustration of the dispute for the mediating role between society and State Bortoleto In Afonso Henrique's narrative of how he was arrested and taken to the police station, he affirms that policemen "think they are an authority, but they are not," and reiterates that "for the Church they are no authority.
Although this position might be considered very marginal in the field of religious controversies in Brazil today, it still makes us face the sensitive issue of the ethical foundation of our legal system.
The debate on the removal of crucifixes and their persistent permanence in courts and public buildings suggest the continuity of Catholicism as a cornerstone of civic life. The data collected by Ranquetat Jr. The Resolution Project Nr. Thus, if the conflict between religions has led to a normative reinforcement of pluralism, as stated above, how may one understand the affirmation of the autonomy of religious law over civil jurisdiction? How shall one understand this persistent permanence of religion as a civil bond despite the acceptance of the diversity of faith as a principle?
Why does it seem to be more difficult to practice tolerance regarding different faiths than regarding different cultures? Is it possible to deal with religious pluralism at the same legal level as that which regulates ethnic pluralism? In reality, the problem of religious pluralism seems to be far more complex.
Differently from cultural pluralism, which questions civil and collective rights, campaigns such as "Yes, Bible! What is thus reintroduced in its place is religious consensus or the primacy of a hegemonic religion. In view of these ways of expressing religious convictions, some Neo-Pentecostal currents might be compared to certain Muslim movements in Europe, which, as in the case of the cartoon controversy, take the sharia as the legal foundation for violent reactions against journalists and the press.Should Britain Become a Secular State
He thus seems to question the very legal foundation of the secular State. From our perspective, this view has not been adequately assessed by Modood in his critique of the secularist ideology of multiculturalism and his demand for the introduction of anti-blasphemy laws in England. Thus affirmed, this demand places us before the aporia that consists of demanding respect for the right of individual freedom of expression while questioning the legal foundation of all democratic rights.
The challenges posed by the recognition of religious minorities are not, therefore, of the same nature as those posed by the recognition of ethnic minorities.
Let us take a quick glance at the challenges that the recognition of minorities as ethnic groups poses to the political field. Challenges to the sovereignty of post-national States In a previous paper MonteroI developed the idea, already hinted at by authors such as CostaArrutiand Frenchthat the phenomena of ethnic identities, having taken the field of culture as the emanation of a group's way of being as a starting point, have projected themselves into the field of politics by means of an appropriation of the grammar of law.
By so doing, they have resulted in the legalization of ethnic groups. These agents were responsible for doing the creative work of mediation that transforms memories, accounts, and ways of living into a legal cause. This process of legalization of ethnic identities is related to a broader debate in the contemporary world context, which opposes multiculturalism to the classical idea of nation States.
According to Charles Taylorthe original notion of multiculturalism alluded, at least in the Canadian case, to a procedure of integration. However, according to him, it became in many countries a suspicious and misunderstood term because it was supposed that it implied an unlimited expansion of different forms of living in a national society, thus fragmenting it into different ghettos and threatening its fundamental values.
For Taylor this fear is absurd in view of the enormous assimilating force of liberal societies; this force would compel communities willing to keep their way of life fully original to isolation A legal understanding of the positive discrimination of differences eventually became crystalized in this international political context, which started to promote anti-assimilationist policies.
In the Brazilian case, the new legal and political framework inaugurated with the Constitution partly anticipated the concerns related to the revision of the international norms on indigenous peoples defined in the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples OIT Convention ofwhich recognized "the Indians' social organization, customs, languages, believes and traditions as well as their original rights over the lands where they have traditionally lived; the Union shall demarcate the land, protect them and provide for the respect of all their goods" Montero This transformation affects the very formulation of nationality.
The Brazilian State, until very recently imbued with the national ideology of assimilationism as a model of social coherence, began to see itself as a State made up of parallel and pluriethnic heritages. Ethnic pluralism started to use the language of the 'recognition of the right to cultural difference' and to establish a fourth generation of rights to citizenship besides civil, political, and social rights: In this sense, it is possible to affirm that the Brazilian version of 'multi-culturalism' re-substantializes the idea of race and ethnicizes cultures which syncretism had mixed.
This ethnicization process is developed mainly in relation to the struggle for land.
This eventually re-elaborates the idea of inclusion and social cohesion, which is here associated with the creation of specific territories delimited by the State. The latter become a relatively autonomous political and administrative unit regarding natural resources and the management of daily life, but remain connected to the State apparatus that continues to be the main channel of access to external resources Arruti Allied with sectors of the academic and political fields, they began training indigenous leaders and creating civil organizations.
In the s, this same process was extended to black rural populations, which were ethnically recognized as communities descending from fugitive slaves remanescentes de quilombosthat is, no longer individuals pertaining to a race, but bearers of a collective way of life associated with a particular territory. In spite of the resistances and tensions that are still part of the dispute for the recognition of this new class of rights, one could argue that it was once more through the maintenance of the grammar of the construction of nationality, that is, through the association of an idea of "culture" as a collective way of life to a national or subnational territory that racial and ethnic differences were accommodated within the very legal framework of the State.
Although the Brazilian State has assumed "ethnicity" as an indicator for the recognition of minorities, it has never abandoned its prerogatives to define the national territory as well as its collective purposes, as has been well demonstrated by Pacheco de Oliveira It is noteworthy that in the debates that characterize the final decades of the last century, the category of "indigenous nations" then mobilized by various leaders and movements progressively disappeared and was replaced by "peoples" and "communities," categories stabilized in the Constitution.
Such categories express the understanding widespread at various levels of Brazilian society that the possibility for the recognition of parallel and autonomous legal and political apparatuses for indigenous populations was not on the agenda. In this political construction, the conjunction between ethnicity and territory has provided the normative framework within which differences can be incorporated into nationality.
In this way, public and private civil rights are accommodated without threatening governance, territorial unity, and the sovereignty of the judicial apparatus.
Final considerations The differences in historical depth and political implications greatly explain the persistent difficulties in granting religious minorities the same collective rights and forms of legal protection that have already been granted ethnic minorities.
It was necessary for the English legal framework, which has always incorporated the concept of "race," to be expanded in the s so that "ethnic" groups such as the Pakistanis might be allowed citizenship and legal protection. This extension eventually displaced the idea of the equality of individuals with the notion of the equality of collectivities.
Still, the author observes that Muslim activists do not fit well into the category of "ethnicity" and demand equality and public recognition in terms of their religious practices. Therefore, according to the author, there is a gap between the advances in the field of ethnic equality and those concerning religious equality. Religious Muslims are thus not authorized to represent themselves collectively as such. In the course of our argument, we have tried to elucidate the main elements that contribute to this gap.
In the first place, one has to consider the differences of nature and temporality between the construction of civil and collective rights. This distinction allows one to understand why, in contrast to the rights of ethnic minorities that have been granted the right to express themselves collectively in respect for their traditions, the rights of religious minorities fall into the purview of civil rights and individual freedoms regarding issues of opinion and consciousness that supposedly belong to the private sphere.
In the Brazilian case, we have seen that the Constitution redefined the legal framework of the nation State by recognizing ethnic identities and granting them particular rights.
However, although this ethnicization of color differences has been constructed in contrast to the language of syncretism and reinstated the concept of 'race' at least as a language of rights, it did not abandon the integrating principle of nationality.
At the same time, as has been well-observed by authors such as Antonio Sergio Guimaraes 24 and Peter Fry, the category of "race" has been reinstated in the political and academic language as well as in governmental censuses as a social classifier and a language of rights.
Thus, differently from what happened in the field of ethnicity, "race" and "culture" seem to be separated once more in the religious field. Religions of "African" origin become closer to anti-racist political movements.
They have therefore been conceived of within the framework of collective rights. In this case, it is noteworthy that the dispute arose not in the religious field, as respect for 'freedom of conscience' and pluralism, at an individual and private level, but in the cultural field, in which the notion of 'national tradition' that interpellates the collective and public level presided over the process in which the legitimacy of such practices was recognized.
Still, as far as the long duration is concerned, we have mentioned that non-Christian practices were constituted as legitimate religions. Once constituted, however, religious diversity was not immediately converted into the political language of religious pluralism.
On the contrary, Catholicism had a long historical hegemony and campaigned against Spiritism, Umbanda, and Candomble until the late s. The fact that Catholicism was deeply ingrained in the self-representation of Brazilian national culture prevented it from confronting State secularism.
Respect for religious pluralism was also restricted, except for a few exceptions involving Protestantism. In effect, the Catholic grammar is so deeply ingrained in the secularization process that of its referents, such as crucifixes, images, and churches, became part of the language of civil society and cultural heritage.
In this sense, it might be affirmed that the social and political dynamics that stimulated the advance of secularism in Brazilian society did not immediately lead to religious pluralism as a political language, that is, to the recognition of religious choice as a fact of opinion and, consequently, to the respect for equality between the different religions as legitimate mediators of society before the State. For this same reason, it was never possible for Afro-Brazilian practices to dispute the field of ethical normativity of the State as religions.
On the contrary, when their rights to the freedom of manifesting their faith were attacked by Neo-Pentecostal action, it was in the field of anti-racial struggles that they found the most effective way of defending their civil rights and denouncing what they saw as the crime committed against them. Thus, pluralism inaugurates religious disputes that paradoxically send "African traditions" back to the field of racial grammar. If we now turn to the issue of "religious minorities," it becomes clearer why the challenges pluralism poses to the Brazilian State could not be solved by accommodating differences within nationality, as in the case of multiculturalism.
Although the secularism of the State was defined early in the Brazilian case, it took time for religious pluralism to become a political language. As has been observed, it has been closely associated to the deterritorialization and, as a consequence, the denationalization of religion in order to allow differences to co-exist.
This was guaranteed by the neutrality of the State in relation to different faiths. The denationalization of Catholicism has only recently taken shape, and religious controversies are a fundamental instrument in this process. Neo-Pentecostals play a significant role by pointing to the fact that Brazil's identification with Catholicism is due to historical accident. Jose Murilo de Carvalho In particular, greater emphasis has been placed on social rights than civil and political rights.
These characteristics might explain why the multiculturalist agenda may be more rapidly absorbed even before the clearly consolidated institution of a pluralist society in the religious field, a field that interpellates individual rights.
In effect, as has already been mentioned, due to the way in which religion and culture have been historically articulated in Brazil, the idea of "freedom" has been related to anti-slavery struggles, and not to the religious disputes that, in the European case, led religious freedom to antecede other rights.
In the context of the forces and interests described above, we would affirm that the expansion of Neo-Pentecostal Protestantism causes new tensions to emerge at two different levels in contemporary Brazil: Thus, by rejecting the ethnic condition of Afro-Brazilians and confronting their religion as "false" in the religious field, Neo-Pentecostals seem to introduce a "holy war" into the political agenda, sending the issue of the individual rights of blacks back into the religious field.
For this reason, in recent episodes of confrontation with Afro-Brazilian religiosity, Neo-Pentecostals reinserted a controversy over secularism in the political agenda of the last two decades, which seemed to have already been duly dealt with. Their recurring and aggressive presence in the public sphere cannot be explained, as has been frequently affirmed in the literature, by the weakness of Brazilian secularism, which is characterized by the way State and civil society allow themselves to be 'invaded' by religion.
As mentioned above, the Brazilian constitutions have granted them freedom of worship and the neutrality of the State. Thus, although the debate on secularism is old, the present context of the secularization of Brazilian society leads us to affirm that we are actually in the presence of a new phenomenon. In the past, the dispute over secularism concerned the autonomy of the State apparatus in relation to the Catholic ecclesiastical apparatus and the authorization, in the name of 'freedom of worship', for the creation of schools and foundation of churches by Protestants.
It does not seem that these are exactly the questions that motivate disputes around secularism today. Therefore, Brazil faces a very paradoxical situation, in which the dynamics of religious pluralism advance by means of public actions which, in the case of the Neo-Pentecostals, do not recognize as religious practices many of those that have been historically recognized as such. The agenda of freedom of consciousness becomes an issue through its confrontation with the agenda of collective rights for the respect of differences.
Secularism advances in that it makes the ethical foundation of the State a little more plural, even if still in debt to Christian culture. However, it seems clear to us that one issue remains open: The religious controversies activated by Neo-Pentecostal movements partly concern the dispute between Afro-Brazilian and Catholic religions for the ethical foundation of Brazilian nationality.
The cases analyzed here allow us to propose that as religious ethics remains the foundation for civil life in Brazilian society, even if in a diffuse way, the less positive the relation between religion and nationality is, the greater will be the chance that its normativity be perceived as theocratic, and therefore a threat to the collective normativity of the State.
Placing African religions in the field of individual rights by classifyingng them as "religious minorities" would mean reinserting them into the dispute for the ethical foundation of nationality and collective morality, a context in which they would certainly lose.
Religion, ethnicity, and the secular world
In contrast, reinserting them into the field of individual rights by classing them as "racial minorities" has been relatively more successful due to the implementation of affirmative policies. Yet, debate on the political and social effects of this legal interference with the classification system remains intense. The examples above help us to demonstrate that the political relations implied by religious pluralism as a political language are different from and frequently contradictory with those implied by multiculturalism.
If the law is able to successfully carry out its role as a mediator between social dynamics and the administrative apparatus by legalizing ethnic identities, religious pluralism tends to dispute this mediating role with the law by multiplying the available ethical references.
Marlon Salomon e Joana A. Scientific racism in modern South Africa. This gave cause for inequitable sharing of State resources among different religious communities. Questions would be raised as to who got what share of the State funding. Also, resources would be diverted from other secular responsibilities of the State, he said. Noting that politicians representing the authority of the State in countries such as India and Sri Lanka were usually publicly demonstrative of their religious affinity, he said there was no harm as long as people could see through such demonstrative religiosity as a public relations exercise.
Secular institutions usually developed in multi-religious societies, but secularism had relevance for all societies. The alternative to secularism was a theocratic state. Iran was an example of a failed theocratic State, he said.
Even in single-religion societies, as in many Islamic countries, people did not want to be governed by religious heads. As the case of Iran proved, religious leaders who came to power riding on a wave of public disillusionment with secular politicians perpetuated a theocracy. While Islamists might gain in an election in Egypt, the Ayatollahs would most likely be thrown out of power in a free election in Iran, he said.
Some religions were more accommodative towards secular institutions. Unorganised religions, which did not have a clergy, such as Hinduism and Buddhism allowed for a secular State. This, however, did not mean that such societies were non-violent or tolerant to religious minorities, he said, pointing to the example of Sri Lanka.