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Global Civil Religion: A European Perspective

Author(s): Grace Davie


Source: Sociology of Religion, Vol. 62, No. 4, Special Issue: Religion and Globalization at the
Turn of the Millennium (Winter, 2001), pp. 455-473
Published by: Oxford University Press
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Sociology of Religion
2001, 62:4 455-473
Global Civil
Religion:
A
European
Perspective
Grace Davie*
University of
Exeter
This article
responds
to the notion
of
a
global
civil
religion
from
a
European perspective.
In so
doing,
it makes use
of
three rather
different starting points,
which work outwards in terms
of
their
geographical scope.
The
first
looks at the
concept of
civil
society
within a
European context;
the
second section demonstrates both the
capacities
and the limitations
of
the
major European religious
traditions to
operate
on a
European
as
opposed
to national
scale,
bearing
in mind that the tensions
between
European
and
global
are
just
as real as those between
European
and national
for
at least
some
of
these traditions. The
final
section has a
truly global perspective
in that it
reflects
on the role
of
mission and
missionary activity
as a crucial
aspect of European history.
The
possibility of
reversed
roles is raised in conclusion.
This article
responds
to the notion of a
global
civil
religion
from a
European
perspective.
In so
doing,
it makes use of three rather different
starting points,
which -
broadly speaking
-
work outwards in terms of their
geographical
scope.
The initial two are concerned with the
European
situation itself. The first
looks at the
concept
of civil
society
(and
by implication
the role of
religion
within
this)
in a
European context,
scrutinizing (a)
the different
pressures
of East
and West
Europe
with
respect
to civil
society
(not
least its
relationship
to the
state)
and
(b)
the
significance
of the churches in the
evolving voluntary
sector.
The
pivotal
role of the territorial state is
diminishing
in both
parts
of
Europe,
but for
very
different reasons. The second section demonstrates both the
capa-
cities and the limitations of the
major European religious
traditions to
operate
on a
European
as
opposed
to national
scale,
bearing
in mind that the tensions
between
European
and
global
are
just
as real as those between
European
and
national for at least some of these traditions
-
the
Anglicans being
an obvious
example. Notwithstanding
the
Anglican case,
this section will contain a
signi-
ficant amount of material on the role of Christian
Democracy
in the
forming
of
both
European identity
and the
European
Union (in
many respects
the
analysis
mirrors Casanova's account of transnational
Catholicism,
but on a smaller
*Direct
correspondee
to Grace
Davie, Department of Sociolog, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4RJ,
U.K. e-
mail
g.r.c.davie@eeter.ac.uk
455
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456 SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
scale).
The final section has a
truly global perspective
in that it reflects on the
role of mission and
missionary activity
as a crucial
aspect
of
European history.
Traditionally Europe
has seen herself as the 'sender' in this
enterprise,
with all
the ambivalent connotations of colonialism. In the most recent
post-war
decades, however,
this situation is
beginning
to alter
radically, inviting
inno-
vative
sociological possibilities.
A further
preliminary
is, however,
important
before
turning
to the central
arguments
of this article; it echoes
very immediately
the discussion of the term
'global
civil
religion'
in the
Plenary
Session of the Association for the
Sociology
of
Religion
from which these
papers emerge,
more
especially
the contribution of
George
Thomas.
Rudolph
(1997:5-8)
raises
exactly
the same
point.
It
poses
a
direct and
hard-hitting question:
to what extent is
civility compatible
with reli-
gion?
Is it
possible
for individuals and
groups
who are
intensely religious
to live
in
harmony
with one another?
Or,
in a
slightly
different formulation of the same
issue,
is it
possible
for the less
religious
to accommodate in their midst
groups
or
communities of
people
for whom
religion
has a different
intensity
if
compared
with the
majority
of the
population?
Both
questions
resonate
forcibly
for
Europeans,
who
respond
in two rather different
ways.
The first reaction reflects
the
continuing
influence of secularization
theory
in
popular
as well as academic
circles in
Europe.
For
many Europeans,
the
religious
factor is
quite simply
no
longer
effective in
public
(as
opposed
to
private
life),
not
only
in
Europe
but,
by
implication,
in the rest of the world as well;
it can
safely,
and
probably
should be
ignored.
The second notion constitutes a different kind of
negativity:
in the 'rest
of the world'
(if
not in
Europe)
the
religious
factor is not
only
all too
evident,
but exerts a destructive rather than constructive or creative influence. We
should,
in other
words,
be
talking
about uncivil rather than civil
religion
at a
global
level. It is
equally
clear that an
implicit self-congratulation
in terms of the
European way
of
doing things
is not so
very
far from the surface in both these
reactions.
THE ROLE OF THE CHURCHES
IN THE CIVIL SOCIETY OF EUROPE
The
paramount
role of the state church in the evolution of
European history
is
recognized by
scholars of all
disciplines,
not least
by sociologists
of
religion.
The
latter, however,
need at times to be reminded of wider
political
under-
standings.
Not
only
do
Europeans regard
the notion of a state church as
entirely
'normal' (at least in historical terms),
they
also have a distinctive view of the
state
per
se, though
its nature and forms
may vary
in different
parts
of the con-
tinent. With this in
mind,
the
following
discussion will deal first with Western
Europe, noting
in
particular
the contrast with the United States;
it will then
turn
briefly
to the former East.
Quite apart
from this basic division,
it is
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GLOBAL CIVIL RELIGION: A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE 457
important
to remember the differences within as well as between the constituent
parts
of the continent.
In the Nordic
countries,
for
example,
a
developed
tradition of social
democracy
hands to the state
very
considerable
responsibilities
in a
high wage,
high tax, high
welfare
economy;
the state is
regarded
as an
essentially benign
protector
of the
people.
The state churches moreover are in
many respects
departments
of the
state,
financed
through
the tax
system.1
Further
South,
in
the heartland of West
Europe
(in
Germany
and France for
instance),
there is a
similar
understanding
of the
centrality
of the
state,
but in a
corporatist
rather
than social welfare formulation. Either
way,
the state is
expected
to
play
an
active role in the
financing
and maintenance of the social
system
-
as a
player
as well as arbiter.
Only
in Britain (as ever half
way
to the United States in its
way
of
doing things)
is the state
regarded
rather
differently,
a stance which
incorporates
a noticeable
suspicion
of
'big' government.
An article which demonstrates the
utterly
different
ways
of
thinking
between
European
and Americans in this
respect
can be found in the
quintes-
sentially
American
journal
The National Interest
(Muller 1997).
In this the
author
(President
Emeritus of The
Johns Hopkins University)
is concerned
primarily
with the difference in welfare
systems
between
Europe
and
America.
Incidental to
this,
but crucial to the
argument,
is the non-existence of forms of
religion
in
Europe
(not
least a New Christian
Right)
which
challenge
the
assumptions
of the status
quo. Following Muller, religion
survives in America as a
serious force in
politics,
not least in the form of a conservative
religious
move-
ment
-
explicitly
committed to traditional Christian values and
vigorously
opposed
to social and
political
interventionism
(including, amongst
other
things,
the
promotion
of social
justice through 'big government'):
The
key
difference between
Europe
and the United States in this
regard
is twofold:
nothing
comparable
to the American
religious right
is in evidence in
Europe nowadays;
and the liberal
orthodoxy
is institutionalized far
deeper
in the structures of the welfare state
-
and even
inside the churches
-
in
Europe
than it is in America. This
lay orthodoxy
in under attack in
America;
in
Europe,
with the
partial exception
of
Britain,
it
really
is not.
(1997:35)
Most
Europeans,
of
course,
are
profoundly supportive
of the status
quo
in so far as
it
underpins
a
moderately comprehensive
welfare
system; bearing this,
and
indeed
many
other reasons in
mind,
the absence of a
religious right
is for them
quite clearly
an
advantage,
not a
disadvantage.
In its
place,
and with the
approbation
of the
great majority
of
Europeans
(Davie 2000),
can be found
either an extant state church or its successor. Whatever their
precise
consti-
tutional
status,
Europe's
institutional churches
are, just
as Muller
implies, likely
1
The recent
changes
in the constitutional status of the Church of Sweden are
interesting
in this
respect,
but do not
-
I think
-
invalidate the basic
argument.
See note 4 for further information about the
Swedish case.
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458 SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
to be committed to (and
in
places heavily
involved
in)
a
comprehensive
welfare
system.
The situation in
Europe
is, however, changing.
In the West there are two
reasons
(at least)
for the state to be cautious in terms of
public spending
and,
consequently,
in terms of the state's involvement in welfare. One is the infi-
nitely expanding
demands of the latter in societies where a
demographic pyra-
mid is
giving way
to a
configuration
in which the
proportion
of
elderly
(as
indeed of the
dependent population
more
generally)
is
beginning
to overwhelm
the
capacities
of the
working
sections of
society.
The imbalance is
particularly
noticeable with
respect
to modern healthcare
systems,
as more and more
people
are
successfully
treated
only
to live
longer,
thus
requiring
extended
pensions
and
(in the fullness of
time)
further medical attention. In the shorter
term,
the
financial
pressures
of
monetary
union have
placed
additional demands on those
European
nations either
within,
or
aspiring
to,
the Euro-zone. It follows that
significant
numbers of
European
nations are
looking
for
ways
of
reducing
rather
than
increasing
the financial demands on the state.
How, then,
is the work to be
done?
Before
turning
to this
question,
it is
important
to consider the situation in
those
parts
of the continent
formerly
under communist rule. If the Western
version of the
changing
role of the state derives in the main from the
exigencies
of
global capitalism,
the
post-communist
version is
vastly
more
apparent
and
results from the
abrupt
removal of both the structures of communist
penetration
and the creed that
underpinned
these at
every
level of
society.
It was in the
Warsaw Pact countries that reliance on the state achieved its fullest
role,
not
only
in
practical
terms but
ideologically
as well. The
churches, moreover,
played
a crucial
part
in
bringing
about the
disintegration
of this
system.
In some
places
(notably
Poland)
the Catholic Church became the
primary
focus of effective
opposition
to
communism,
a
story
that is both well documented and
frequently
told. The
capacity
for the more
depleted
churches of central
Europe
to
operate
in a similar fashion at crucial moments in the drama is less well known but offers
a valuable reminder that size and numbers are not the
only
variables to be taken
into account. It is these
churches, moreover,
that face the reconstruction
process
with limited resources and little
experience
of democratic
practice
(see below).
Finally,
there
is,
once
again,
the additional element of
supra-national
structures.
In the East as well as the
West,
the desire to become full members of the
European
Union receives sustained attention as the former communist countries
seek an international
identity
distinct from their Soviet
past. Indeed,
in
many
respects,
the Eastern
European
nations are more enthusiastic
supporters
of the
Union than those in the West.
Be that as it
may,
the
analysis presented
in the
previous paragraphs
is crucial
to the
changing
nature of
European society
and to the
concept
of
global
civil
religion.
Not
only
is the territorial state
diminishing
in
significance
as the
European
Union
grows
in
importance
(an external
pressure
to be elaborated
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GLOBAL CIVIL RELIGION: A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE 459
further in the
following section),
its internal role is also
evolving
and in some
places very rapidly
indeed. In terms of the
latter,
civil
society
becomes a corre-
spondingly significant
arena as alternative
ways
are
sought
to meet the
on-going
needs of the
populations
in
question.
A full discussion of this
complex
and
shifting
notion
is,
quite clearly, beyond
the
scope
of this article. Two inter-
related
points
will, however,
provide
a
way
into the
debate,
both of which
resonate with the
primary
theme of this
paper.
The first concerns the nature of
voluntarism; the second looks more
closely
at the role of the institutional
churches within this
growing sphere.
Any
discussion of 'voluntarism'
inevitably
collides with a
persistent
and
problematic
confusion
(even
in the literature that
follows)
regarding
the term
itself. Does this mean the existence of a
non-governmental
sector in the
organi-
zation of different
aspects
of
society,
or does this mean the
unpaid
activities of
'volunteers' in a whole
range
of socio-economic activities? The
following para-
graphs
tend towards the latter
interpretation, bearing
in mind that there are
places
where the two
meanings overlap.
This,
in
fact,
is the case with
regard
to
Europe's
institutional churches.
Despite
the undeniable decline in
churchgoing
across most
parts
of the
continent,
they remain,
at one and the same
time,
significant organizations
within the
voluntary
sector2 and the source of much
unpaid volunteering.
The
following data,
for
example,
taken from the
European
Values
Study,3 provide convincing
evidence of the latter;
'religion
and church'
do as well as
many
and better than most similar activities across fifteen West
European
societies
(see
Table
1).
Leaders,
members and observers of the churches need at times to be
reminded of their relative success in this field.
Exactly
the same material
can,
moreover,
be considered in relation to the debates
concerning
social
capital.
Relatively speaking,
the
European
churches are
powerful generators
of this
precious
but elusive element in a
healthy
civil
society.
The churches'
capacity
not
only
to create but to sustain social
capital
can be
documented in other
ways
as well.
Gill,
for
instance,
in both Moral communities
(1992)
and
Churchgoing
and christian ethics
(1999),
offers an excellent
empirical
illustration based on British data. Gill
analyses church-going
as an
independent
rather than
dependent variable,
this time at a micro rather than macro level. It
becomes
abundantly
clear that
church-going, though considerably
reduced in
2
The churches of
Europe
are de
facto voluntary organizations
whatever their constitutional status. No
one in modern
Europe
is
compelled
to attend church either
by
law or for the more subtle reasons of social
respectability.
For a
longer
discussion of this
point
see Davie
(2000),
especially Chapter
3.
3
The
European
Values
project
was initiated in the late 1970s
by
Professors
Jan
Kerkhofs (in the
University
of
Leuven) and Ruud de Moor (in the
University
of
Tilburg)
Since then, three investigations have
taken
place
in
1981, 1990 and 1999 and across a
growing
number of countries, both in
Europe
and elsewhere.
An excellent
summary
of the
project
and the literature that it has
generated
can be found in Halman and Riis
(1999).
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460 SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
modern
Britain,
does have an effect on the
way
that
people
behave; it is not
simply
a reflection of other variables. And one measurable influence
lies,
pre-
cisely,
in the
disproportionate
numbers of the
religiously
active that can be
found in the
unpaid
but
highly
trained
voluntary
sector - advice
workers,
prison
visitors, charity
workers,
bereavement counsellors etc.
-
whose contri-
butions become
increasingly
valuable in a society where (as we have
seen)
public provision
is in
many ways
under attack. This is an
army
of
people
whose
activities touch the most vulnerable
groups
in British
society;
without it the
common
good
would,
quite clearly,
be diminished.
TABLE 1
%
Europeans Engaged
in
Voluntary
Work
by Type
of
Organization
1990
Health 1.8
Conservation,
environment 1.5
Social welfare services 4.1 Animal
rights
1.0
Youth work 2.9
Sports
& recreation 6.8
Education, arts,
culture 3.8
Religion
and church 5.8
Local
community
action 1.5 Trade unions 2.0
Third
world,
human
rights
1.2 Political
parties
&
groups
2.3
Women's
groups
1.4 Professional associations 1.9
Peace movement 0.6
Table
reproduced
from
Barker, Holman,
and
Vloet,
1992:39.
Two
points
follow from this. The first asks how such a
finding
can be
explained;
the second looks at its
capacity
to take root in other
parts
of
Europe.
The first can be
approached sociologically
as well as
theologically.
If the latter
concerns
very properly
an ethic of
altruism,
the former
undoubtedly
resides in
the local network.
Groups
of volunteers do not
spontaneously present
them-
selves for
training
as
individuals;
they emerge
as the result of
encouragement,
knowledge
and
contact,
themselves the
consequence
of
regular meeting
and
informal
networks,
activities in which the churches remain second to none. In
other
words, existing
volunteers both
encourage
others to follow their
example
and offer
help
with the
processes
of selection and
training, frequently meeting
those 'others' within the networks of institutional
religion.
How
far, though,
can
unpaid
but trained work offer a contribution outside
Britain,
where it has become a well-established
way
of
working
and one that
resonates
particularly
well in a
country
where state
provision
is less
developed
than in continental
Europe?
In some
ways
it is less
easy
to see a
place
for this
kind of
activity
where state welfare is the
accepted practice
whether in the social
democratic or the
corporatist
tradition. As we have
seen, however,
the role of
the state is
changing
even in these
parts
of
Europe.
In the Nordic
countries,
for
example, significant
numbers of
people
are
beginning
to
grasp
this
reality
and to
look for solutions
beyond
the state
system.
More
specifically,
the
place
of the
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GLOBAL CIVIL RELIGION: A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE 461
volunteer,
and
indeed,
the
voluntary
sector more
generally,
forms an
important
thread in a research
project
set
up
to monitor the
changes taking place
in
Swedish
society.4
It is
interesting
that the overall theme of the
project
(an
important
initiative
generously
funded
by
the
state)
relates to the
changing
nature of the
public
sector in late
modernity,
and more
specifically
to the
relationship
between the individual and the state. Within this framework one
arm of the
project
concerns the
changing
status of the Church'of Sweden
(an
example
of
privatization
as the Church moves from the state to the
voluntary
sector);
it is in this section that the
place
of the volunteer receives considerable
attention,
with useful
comparisons
to the German case.
In the Catholic countries of continental
Europe
similar tendencies can be
seen,
but in rather different
ways. Firstly,
I
think,
in the
concept
of
'personalism'
(as
opposed
to
individualism)
- a Christian Democrat idea which
persists
in
Catholic social
teaching, despite
the fact that some
(if
not
all)
Christian
Democrat
parties
no
longer
resonate in a
political
sense
(see below).
The
person
is a
fundamentally
social
being
with a
significant place
in different
types
of
community,
for
example neighborhood, church,
family
or nation.
Individualism,
in
contrast,
is the
primary emphasis
within liberalism
-
a
juxtaposition
which
leads Christian Democrats to be critical of the excesses of
capitalism.
Hence,
to
a certain
extent,
an
emphasis
on welfare. There
is, however,
an inherent tension
in the
politicization
of welfare as a Christian Democrat
philosophy
in that it
collides with the traditional Catholic
emphasis
on
charity
- an
essentially
apolitical
theme. Catholic
charities,
moreover
-
champions par
excellence of the
voluntary
sector
-
continue to
play
an
important part
in the lives of
many
Europeans. Interestingly,
in their
negotiations
with the state in the nineteenth
century,
such
organizations provided
the initial focus for discussion of the con-
cept
of
'subsidiarity'
-
few ideas have been as influential as this one in the
evolution of the
European
Union.
Catholic
charities,
both in
Europe
and
elsewhere,
are
frequently large-scale
activities
employing many hundreds,
if not
thousands,
of
paid professionals.
They
are not the exclusive
province
of the volunteer. In connection with
global
civil
religion,
an
interesting description
of their work can be found in Della
Cava
(1997)
-
an account which centres on the
capacity
of such
organizations
to
penetrate
the frontier between East and West
Europe
both before and after
the fall of Berlin wall. This is a
top-down example
of transnational
religious
activity, documenting
in some detail the transfers of
money
and
manpower
between Roman and Uniate Catholics in the West and their
counterparts
in the
former Soviet bloc.
4 Details of this
project
-
a multi-faceted account of the transformation of the Swedish Lutheran
Church from a state church to a free folk church
-
can be found in Backstr6m
(1999), a document within
which there is,
I
think, a confusion of
terms, at least in the
English
translation.
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462 SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
The situation
regarding
volunteers
per
se in central and East
Europe
is more
difficult to research and the
following
remarks
depend
to a
large
extent on
anecdotal evidence. More
specifically they
come from a Polish visitor to Britain
who
was,
quite simply,
astonished not
only
at the level of
volunteering
in a
provincial
British
society,
but at the role of
key
individuals in the network that
linked these
people together.
Two of three contacts
put
her in touch with the
whole
system. (Interestingly
those contacts
came,
directly
or
indirectly,
from the
churches.) This, however,
was a visitor from Poland
-
where the church
remains
(for
better or
worse)
institutionally strong.
In the churches of central
and East
Europe
more
depleted by
the communist
period,
the tradition of
volunteering might
well be
stronger (given
there was little else to
rely
on);
conversely
it could have
disappeared altogether given
the sustained
pressures
brought
to bear on both churches and
churchgoers through fifty years
of com-
munist
government.
There
is, clearly,
a need for careful
comparative
research in
this field.5
One
point
must be made
abundantly
clear before
completing
this discussion.
It is
very unlikely
that
any
of these
adjustments
will result in a
significant
increase in
churchgoing
in modern
Europe.
The
point
lies elsewhere:
in,
that
is,
the realization that the historic
churches, though statistically
reduced,
still have
an effective role to
play
in the
voluntary
sector
(though
more in some
places
than in
others).
It is
equally important
to
remember, however,
that if the
churches have retained the
capacity
to
operate effectively
in this
respect, they
may
also be
able, theoretically
at
least,
to mobilize both themselves and others in
ways
which erode rather than build an effective civil
society (Rudolph
1997).
The
sociologist
can
point
out the functional
capacity;
others must be
responsible
for the
way
that this is used.
LEVELS OF OPERATION: NATIONAL,
EUROPEAN OR GLOBAL
We need now to set these debates into a broader
perspective
and reconsider
the role of churches
(indeed
of
religion
more
generally)
in the
relationship
between the nation state and the
European
Union
(i.e.
a transnational
entity)
and between the
European
Union and the rest of the world.
Elaborating
these
relationships requires,
however,
that an
important
theoretical
assumption
embedded in this
paper
be
fully
articulated. This
assumption
can be stated
quite
simply: just
how far does the
religious
life of a
country
(or
indeed of a continent)
reflect a context rather than create one? In other
words,
is
religion primarily
a
reactive rather than
proactive sociological
variable? In
my opinion,
the
potential
5 A start can be made
by looking
at the collection of articles
brought together
in the
special
issue of
Religion,
State and
Society,
March 1999, 27/1.
The issue deals with the role of the
laity
in the
European
churches, including
those in East and Central
Europe.
Of
particular
interest is van der Zweerde's article on
'Civil Society'
and 'Orthodox
Christianity'
in Russia: a double test case
(pp. 23-46).
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GLOBAL CIVIL RELIGION: A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE 463
for
proactivity
lies at the heart of a notion such as
global
civil
religion.
It is
also
central to the
European
case.
Looking back,
for
example,
it is clear that the
religious
factor
played
a cru-
cial
part
in the
forging
of
something
that we
recognize
as
European,
a
notion
most
obviously expressed
in the culture and institutions of
medieval
Christendom. It is
equally
clear, however,
that in the
early
modern
period
in
particular,
this common historical
heritage
both
moulded,
and became moulded
by,
a
great diversity
of factors to form a number of
subtypes
(for
the most
part
nation states and national
churches),
some of them
-
not least in the British
case
-
very
distinct indeed. In the
closing years
of the twentieth
century
as the
Single European
Act became a
reality,
and at the
beginning
of the
twenty-first
as the Euro-zone exerts its
influence,
this situation is
shifting
once
again
towards a
greater emphasis
on
commonality
rather
difference,
or at the
very
least,
to some awareness of the motives and
policies
of
neighboring
states in
addition to internal or national
developments. Bearing
these
shifting perspec-
tives in
mind,
two interrelated
questions present
themselves: first the need to ask
whether the
religious
factor has
-
in the
supposedly
secular continent of
Europe
-
the
capacity
to do
anything
effective at all
(i.e.
in the
forming
or
reforming
of
identities);
and
secondly,
the need to examine not
only
the
degree
of
independence
of this
factor,
but the direction in which it
might operate.
A
starting point
in both cases can be established
by asking
what 'use'
might
be made of the
religious
element within
society,
either
by
the state or
by any
number of interested
parties.
Can
it,
for
example,
be
pressed
into service
by pro-
Europeans
to
emphasize
what
Europe
has in
common,
or will it be used
by
their
opponents
to
provide support
for discrete and
independent
nations,
each with
their own
carefully
circumscribed
religious sphere, possibly
a national church?
Either scenario is
possible.
The
argument, can, however,
be turned the other
way
around. For the churches
(national
or
otherwise),
religious
individuals or a wide
variety
of
religious organizations may
themselves
attempt
to initiate
-
rather
than reflect
-
shifts in
public opinion.
In other
words,
the
religious
factor
may
operate
as an
independent
variable in
bringing
about a
greater European
consciousness, or,
conversely,
in
resisting just
such a move.
A
partial
answer to at least some of these
questions
can be found in data
from the World Values
Study Group (Moyser 2000),
wherein statistical
patterns
indicate that some
possibilities
are more
likely
than others. It is
clear,
first of
all,
that the
religious
factor remains
significant
in the lives of modern
Europeans,
despite equally plain
indications that it is less salient that it once
was,
especially
in terms of institutional commitment or
expression (a
finding
that echoes
parallel investigations). Amongst
most
age groups, moreover,
there
appears
to be
a connection between
being religious (measured
in a
variety
of
ways)
and
loyalty
towards national rather than
supranational entities,
bearing
in mind that such
relationships
are
complex
and to a considerable extent
contingent (i.e.
they vary
from
country
to
country,
between
majorities
and minorities and between
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464 SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
different
denominations).
Conversely
the more secular
groups
in the
population
(groups
in which the
younger generation
are
disproportionately present)
seem to
find it easier to embrace
supranational loyalties.
How such results are to be
interpreted
is,
of
course,
a more difficult
question.
Is it the case that conservative
leanings
lie behind attachments to both
religion
and the nation
state,
or is there a direct connection between the two -
notably
in the case of a state church? A second
question inevitably
follows: will the
patterns
alter as the decades
pass?
More
specifically,
will the
seemingly
more
secular
younger generations
locate themselves
differently
in terms of national
and
supranational
identities? If
so,
are such shifts in outlook the result of
increasing
secularization or
simply
a
shifting perspective
more
generally?
The
answers will
lie, surely,
in sources other than
quantitative
data,
for
example
in
long
term historical
investigations
which
appreciate
the subtleties of each
particular
case.
The British illustration is
especially apposite
in this
respect,
the more so if a
Northern Irish
perspective
is taken into account.6 For we
have, then,
not
only
a
considerable denominational mix but
four
distinct national
perspectives
as well
(all
four are conflated in the data outlined
above).
It
is,
for
example, hardly
surprising
that Northern Irish Protestants treat
Europe
with considerable
suspicion. They
are
only
too well aware of Catholic
majorities
in
Ireland,
let
alone in
Europe,
to risk much down that road. In
contrast,
the Scots - and to
some
degree
the Welsh as well
-
have
everything
to
play
for,
in that
greater
European integration necessarily
diminishes
English
domination. The
Scots,
moreover,
have a national church
(the Kirk),
which
belongs,
both
theologically
and
organizationally,
to one of
Europe's major spiritual
traditions,
Calvinism.7 In
Scotland, therefore, economic,
political
and
religious
factors are
mutually
reinforcing
and in favour of
greater European
consciousness. The Scottish and
Welsh situations
are, however, evolving very
fast in view of recent
legislative
change.
Devolution has
significantly
altered the
weighting
between the
myriad
of factors
involved,
not least the role of
religion
as a carrier of national
identity
- a situation that
requires
close and
continuing scrutiny.8
The
English
case is
altogether
more
complicated,
but two dimensions
are,
perhaps,
crucial. The Church of
England
is
exactly
what that name
implies;
it is
the national church of
England
and can
still,
at
times, operate very effectively
in
6
For a more detailed discussion of the British churches in an
European
context,
see Davie (1994a,
1994b).
7
The other two
spiritual
traditions of west
Europe
are Lutheranism and Catholicism. Anglicanism,
in
contrast, has no roots on the
European
mainland.
8
In the
year
2000,
Scotland
acquired
its own
parliament,
thus
removing
from the Church of Scotland
its
unique
role as the
only place
in Scottish
society
where Scottish affairs could be debated
by
Scottish
people.
The
long
term
consequences
for the Church of Scotland as a carrier of Scottish
identity
remain to be seen.
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GLOBAL CIVIL RELIGION: A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE 465
that
capacity
(Davie 1994b).
It
has,
in
addition,
been
inextricably
linked to
a
colonial
past,
for missionaries followed the
flag,
or vice
versa,
for centuries
(see
below).
One
very
obvious
consequence
of this
past
has been a
multiplicity
of
organizational
links with churches
worldwide,
notably
within the
entity
known
as the Commonwealth. But neither the essential
Englishness
of the domestic
church nor its
developed imperial
connections are
going
to be much
help
in
forming
effective and creative links with
Europe; they may
well,
in
fact,
be
a
hindrance. It is at this
point
that
global
connections
quite clearly mitigate
against European
ones:
they
become
competing
rather than
reinforcing loyalties
and in
many ways
mirror the economic and
political
tensions of the United
Kingdom,
torn between
loyalty
to an
imperial past
and the
promise
of a
European
future.
In terms of the
churches,
an excellent illustration of the
complexities
of the
Anglican
case can be found in the evolution of the Lambeth
Conference,
a
meeting
of the Primates of the
Anglican
Communion convened
by
the
Archbishop
of
Canterbury every
ten
years.
In the course of the twentieth
century
this has shifted from a
primarily English
occasion to a
truly global
gathering,
with the
weight
of numbers
increasingly supporting
the voices of non-
European,
indeed non-Western
delegates.
A
parallel change
in interests accom-
panies
this shift: the focus of debates has altered to issues that have
meaning
for
the
developing
rather than the
developed world,
to the bewilderment of
many
English
observers. The
latter, moreover,
are
continuing
for the most
part
to
operate
within a
perspective
dominated
by secularization,
unable so far to make
the
imaginative leap
that takes into account the
vibrancy
of
religion,
and
particularly
of conservative
religion,
in the
non-European parts
of the world
(Pickering 1998).9
The
reporting
of the 1998 Lambeth Conference
by
the
British
press exemplifies
this
point;
it was
myopic
to
say
the least.
So much for the British case. An
entirely
different scenario
presents
itself in
the
history
and evolution of Christian
Democracy
-
one that resonates
very
differently
in terms of
(a)
the overall
argument
of this article and
(b)
the more
general
framework of
global
civil
religion.
The antecedents of Christian
Democracy go
back to the 19th
century
as individual Catholics looked for
ways
in which to reconcile their faith to a
changing
world. Such initiatives
were,
however,
heavily outweighed by
the institutional
-
and
especially
Roman
-
dislike of
democracy,
whether in
politics
or in
theology.
The 'natural' home for
Catholicism in
Europe
remained the authoritarian
political party
until the
collapse
of Fascism and National Socialism
destroyed
that
possibility
forever. It
was, therefore,
in the immediate
post-war period
that Christian
Democracy
became the effective alternative for Catholics in
large parts
of Western
Europe.
9
The
parallels
with the World Council of Churches are
obvious;
the WCC is
making
strenuous efforts
to shed its Eurocentric
perceptions
about
patterns
of
religion
in the modern world.
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466 SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
Despite
a mixture of ideas at the
outset,
these
parties
evolved before
long
into
parties
of the moderate
Right.
In this
capacity,
and for several decades of
post-war history,
the Christian
Democrats dominated the
political systems
of
many European
nations
(Hanley
1994;
van
Kersbergen
1995). This, however,
is not the whole
story.
In con-
nection with the theme of this
article,
the transnational dimensions of Christian
Democracy
- as an
essentially European phenomenon, giving
considerable
impetus
to the idea of a
European Community
-
are crucial. It is not
entirely
a
coincidence that the
treaty
that
brought
the
Community
into
being
was the
'Treaty
of
Rome,'
for its architects
(notably
Conrad
Adenauer,
Jean
Monnet and
Alcide de
Gaspari)
were
profoundly
influenced
by
their
religious
as well as their
political
backgrounds.
The
Community
was never intended to be
exclusively,
or
even
primarily,
an economic
entity;
its first
initiative,
for
example,
had as much
to do with
peace-making
as with the
economy.
The Coal and Steel
Agreements
of the 1950s were created to
place
the
weapons
of war under
supranational
control. The
implications
of the
Treaty
of Rome's title
provide,
however,
one
explanation why
at least some of the non-Catholic countries of
Europe
remain
ambivalent towards the idea of
Europe,
and not least to the notion of an
external
power
which
may
threaten the
sovereignty
of individual nations. The
echoes of
papal
domination still resonate and not
only
in
Britain;
Denmark and
Greece
exemplify
the same hesitation.
As the twentieth
century gives way
to the
twenty-first,
however,
Christian
Democracy
has become less influential than it was.
Why
this should be so is not
always easy
to
discern, though
one
possibility
must
lie, surely,
in the
growing
indifference of
Europeans
to their churches and to the
centrality
of Christian
teaching,
if not to 'softer' versions of the
spiritual
(Davie 2000).
Such an
evolution was bound to affect
parties claiming
a confessional rather than class
constituency.
This cannot be the
only explanation,
however,
in that one of the
most dramatic
collapses
of all Christian Democrat
parties
can be found in the
Italian case where the conventional indicators of
religion
remain
relatively high.
Here Christian
Democracy
seems to have
imploded partly through
exhaustion
(and
the inevitable
corruption
that corrodes a
party
too
long
in
power),
but also
through
the even more
spectacular collapse
of its alter
ego,
the Italian Com-
munist
Party.
Without the
potential opposition
of the
latter,
the checks and
balances within the Italian Christian
Democracy gave way, leading
to a
splintering
of interests between a
range
of different
groups.
It is
important
not to
jump
to conclusions about the future. The
partial
eclipse
of Christian
Democracy
(and
indeed of the confessional
party
more
generally)
does not mean the eradication of
religion
as a
significant
influence in
the
political
life of West
Europe.
At the level of civil
society
(as
opposed
to the
nation
state),
such churches
are,
and will
remain,
important
contributors to the
political
life of
Europe.
It is at this
point
that
the-argument
in this section
connects with that in the
previous
one,
with its stress on the
voluntary
sector -
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GLOBAL CIVIL RELIGION: A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE 467
a field in which both churches and
churchgoers
continue to
play
a
dispropor-
tionate role.
The final remarks in this section turn in a rather different
direction; they
concern the
possible
links between a
growing European identity
and effective
ecumenism in
Europe. Coincidentally
-
or
perhaps
not
-
the Christian
churches have made
significant progress
towards
greater unity alongside
the
emergence
of the economic and
political
union
(see,
for
example
the Porvoo
and Meissen
agreements
between the
Anglicans
and the Lutherans of
Europe
and the
ongoing, though
rather more
problematic,
conversations between
Anglicans
and Roman
Catholics).
Indeed it could be
argued
that the
building
of
a
greater European identity
and the
growth
of ecumenical endeavor are
part
and
parcel
of the same
process.
In both case there is a
greater
(if
by
no means
unanimous)
emphasis
on what
Europe/Christendom
has in common rather than
its differences. That some nations/churches find this easier than others is
part
of
the
complexity
of
European religious identity.
The
British,
Danish and Greek
examples
are once
again particularly interesting
in this
respect.
Each of these
countries have ambivalent attitudes towards
Europe:
in all their hesitations the
religious
factor as an
exemplar
of
particularity plays
a
significant
role. Nor can
the
publication
of Dominus
Jesus
(September
2000)
be
ignored
in this
context;
given
the
rigor
of its
stipulations,
the
ecumenical,
if not the
political,
'hesitators'
were in
many ways proved right.
The
Europe
that is
emerging
as the
twenty-first century
dawns
is, however,
a
rapidly changing place.
From a
religious point
of
view,
one of the most
signi-
ficant evolutions of the late twentieth
century
has been the
increasing
representation
of faiths other than Christian.
Analytical concepts
will have to
evolve
accordingly. European religion (a
legacy
of
Christendom) is,
for
example,
giving way
to the
'religions
of
Europe;'
a continent which now houses a
significant representation
of
Muslims, Sikhs,
Hindus and Buddhists in addition
to the
Jewish
communities which have
played
such a crucial role in
Europe's
recent
history.
It is
paradoxical
that at
precisely
the moment when
Europe,
and
to some
extent,
the Christian churches of the
continent,
is
attempting
to draw
itself back
together,
new forms of
demographic
and
religious diversity
are
appearing.
The tension between
unity
and
diversity re-presents
itself all over
again, though
in forms that are
peculiar
to late modern rather than
early
modern
society.
There exists in fact an odd
irony
in the
self-perception
of
Europeans.
At one
and the same
time,
they perceive
themselves as
increasingly
secular and draw the
boundaries of their continent
-
known sometimes as 'fortress
Europe'
-
along
Christian lines. Whether
consciously
or
not,
the effective barriers to
entry
coin-
cide with a
geographical
definition of Christendom. Nations dominated
by
Western
(Catholic)
Christianity will,
in
my view,
find it easier than their
Orthodox
equivalents
to enter the
European Union;
Muslim states will find it
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468 SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
harder still
(if
not
impossible), despite
the existence of
significant
Muslim
communities within
most,
if not
all,
West
European
nations.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MISSION:
PAST AND PRESENT FORMULATIONS
The
discovery
and colonization of the 'new world' from the
early
modern
period
onwards are
equally
formative
processes
in the
self-perception
of Euro-
peans,
with a
strong emphasis
on
Europe
as the
sending
continent rather than
the other
way
around. These activities constituted a multi-faceted
enterprise
in
which
economic, political, military
and
religious personnel
not
only
had their
part
to
play,
but became
inextricably
bound
up
with each other. Missionaries
followed the
flag,
and colonizers' of all kinds had
economic,
political,
and in
many
cases,
spiritual
motives. With this in mind it is
hardly surprising
that the
different forms of
European religion,
Catholic and
Protestant,
became estab-
lished in the
parts
of the
globe
colonized
by
their host nations - the
French,
Portuguese
and
Spanish
took Catholicism to
large
areas of West Africa and to
Latin
America,
the British took different forms of Protestantism (and
up
to a
point
Catholicism as
well)
to the United
States,
the
English-speaking
Dominions and the New Commonwealth.
Missionary enterprise
has,
for the most
part,
received a bad
press
in
Europe;
it has been seen
primarily
as a form of cultural
oppression profoundly damaging
to 'native' beliefs and civilizations.
Unsurprisingly,
such
critiques
have been led
by
the secular-liberal
lobby,
a
group already
critical of
Christianity
in its Euro-
pean
context.
Exactly
the same
personnel
seem, however, blissfully
- not to
say
paradoxically
- unaware that
they
are
participating
in a
very
similar
enterprise:
effectively they
are
'exporting'
secularization, just
as their forebears
exported
Christianity.
But with one difference. The
export
of secularization remains
unquestioned
in so far as most
Europeans
assume that as the world
modernized,
it would
necessarily secularize,
a connection
profoundly
embedded in the modern
European
consciousness. In
contrast,
the earlier
product,
Christian
mission,
was
repeatedly
attacked. There
are,
of
course,
two sides to the debate about mission.
In some
ways
the secular liberals are
right
-
native beliefs and cultures were
indeed
profoundly
disturbed. Such
critics, however,
frequently
underestimate the
sheer cost of mission in terms of the individuals
involved;
the loss of life,
especially
in the
early days,
was enormous as
any
first-hand account will
reveal.10
The details of this
complex story
cannot be
repeated
here, though they
raise
an
important
issue: that is the
competing
claims of
(a)
the
right
to share one's
religious
beliefs
(i.e.
to
evangelize)
in
any
democratic
society
and indeed
beyond
10
The
Missionary
societies of nineteenth
century
Britain owned
expensive
real estate in the center of
London (a symbol
of
power),
from which
they
sent an endless stream of volunteers
willing
to sacrifice
everything
for the
gospel
(a symbol
of service).
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GLOBAL CIVIL RELIGION: A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE 469
and
(b)
the
equally
understandable inclination to
protect
-
from both evan-
gelists
and secularists
-
the more vulnerable civilizations of the late modern
world. The fact that these two claims are not
easily
reconcilable reveals the
complexities
of a debate in which
easy
or
simple
answers are
likely
to be
fallacious.
(They
were raised at some
length
in the Conference session from
which these
papers emerged.)
What, however,
is crucial to this article is to document the
gradual,
but
seemingly inexorable,
shift in the direction of the
missionary
endeavor. This can
be seen in a number of
ways
and
proceeds through
a
variety
of
stages.
The first
point
to note concerns the
growing diversity
of faiths in modern
Europe,
a trend
already
mentioned at the conclusion of the
previous
section. This is
not,
strictly
speaking,
a reversal of
(still
less a
reprisal
for)
Christian
missionizing,
nor should
it be seen as such. It is
simply
the result of economic
policies pursued
in the mid
post-war
decades when
European
economies were
expanding
fast and
required
sources of labor
beyond
their own
populations.
Such sources were
found,
largely,
in the former colonies of the
major
nations of
Europe, bringing significant
numbers of Muslims and rather smaller numbers of Sikhs and Hindus to
Europe.
As
part
of the same
movement,
however
-
though
earlier in some
places
than
in others
-
communities of African and Afro-Caribbean Christians
began
to
arrive;
groups
which are
beginning
to
change
(albeit
modestly)
the nature of
European Christianity.
These,
in
fact,
are some of the most vibrant Christian
communities in modern
Europe,
a
point
which needs further elaboration.
In
terms,
first of
all,
of
missionary
endeavor
per se,
there has been a
gradual
change
in
language
in the later
post-war
decades. The notion of
sending
(i.e.
from Christian
Europe
to a non- or rather less-Christian
destination)
gradually
modulates into a
language
of
partnership,
in which both sides
(senders
and
receivers)
are
essentially equal
and co-workers in the
missionary enterprise.
Bit
by
bit, however,
has come a realization that the so-called
receiving
nations are
now
markedly
more
religious
and
frequently
more Christian in terms of all the
conventional indicators than the nations of modern
Europe.
The
Anglican
Communion
(see above)
is not the
only
Christian denomination in which the
centre of
gravity
has moved South and to the
developing world;
this is
equally
true for Catholicism and on a
very
much
larger
scale
(the
essential
point
of
Casanova's extended case
study)
. At the start of the
twenty-first century,
the
profile
of
Christianity
world-wide is
utterly
different from its Eurocentric
predecessor.
This shift
poses profound sociological questions,
not least for the
secularization debate. It is
plainly
not the case that as the world
modernizes,
it
necessary
secularizes
(even
within the relative confines of
Christianity,
this has
not
happened).
Nor can
Europe,
where
empirical
connections between moderni-
zation and secularization are
reasonably strong,
be considered a
global prototype.
It is
instead,
a
particular case,
which needs
explaining
in terms
specific
to its
own
history
(Davie 2000;
forthcoming).
More than
that,
it
may, increasingly,
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470
SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
find itself on the
receiving
end of
missionary
efforts from outside. The
change
in
direction should not be
exaggerated.
The
following examples
are
essentially
small-scale and visible to the
aficionado
rather than to the wider
public. They
represent,
none the
less,
an indicator that some sort of shift
may, episodically
at
least,
be
taking place; they
should be read
cautiously
but with careful attention
to the
possible implications.
The first is not
directly
an
example
of reverse flows. It contains instead the
suggestion
that a
moderately
successful
attempt
at reconciliation
through
the
medium, amongst others,
of
religious representatives,
used to
positive
effect in
New
Caledonia, might
become a more
frequently
used
way
of
working
in France
- a nation where
ideological
conflict remains
widespread
and in which the
churches seldom work with the state on an
equal footing.
It is taken from a
discussion of the French case in a book entitled The limits
of
social cohesion.
Conflict
and mediation in
pluralist
societies
(Hervieu-Leger
1998).
In 1988 a six
man team was sent from France to New Caledonia with the intention of
listening
to the
grievances
of the various
parties
in an
increasingly
violent
conflict;
three were
high ranking
civil
servants,
the other three were
represen-
tatives of the
major spiritual
traditions
present
on that island - the
Catholics,
the Protestants and the Free Masons.
Despite
initial
coldness,
the commission
was
very largely
successful in
bringing
the different
parties together, overcoming
an
ideological
conflict which had divided the islanders to the
point
of civil war.
Hervieu-Leger regards
this
episode
as a
turning point
in the French under-
standing
of
religion
in their own
society
- the various
religious
traditions
become a source of
dialogue
rather than conflict.
The second
example
come from David Martin's extensive and
long-term
work on the
patterns
of
religion
in the modern
world, including
a close observa-
tion of the
European
case. Over a
period
of
thirty years
or
so,
this
outstanding
scholar of
religion
has
begun
not
only
to notice the
changes
in the
global
patterns
of
religion,
but to
question
his earlier conclusions about the 'normal'
direction of influence:
Initially,
about a
quarter
of a
century ago,
I asked
myself why
the
voluntary
denominations of
Anglo-American
culture had not taken off in Latin America as
they
had in the
U.S.A.,
and
concluded that Latin America must be too similar to Latin
Europe
for that to
happen.
But
now I am inclined to reverse the
question
and ask
why
the
burgeoning
denominations of
Latin America have not taken off in Latin
Europe....
There are new
spaces being
cleared in
which a
competitive
denominational culture can flourish (1996:41;
citation taken from the
English original).
The essence of Martin's
argument
lies in the observation that the factors
that
encouraged European
secularization in the first
place
-
a fortress Catholicism,
buttressed
by political power,
and
opposed by
militant
secularity
-
are
themselves
beginning
to erode
(a
pull
factor).
There is no
reason, therefore, why
the vibrant
voluntary
denominationalism of the New World
(a
push
factor)
should not find a
place
in the
Old, alongside
if not
replacing
a weakened
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GLOBAL CIVIL RELIGION: A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE 471
Catholic Church. And if that is true in Latin
Europe,
how much more
specta-
cular are the
spaces
in much of the former communist world
(see
Section
One),
which,
quite clearly,
are
attracting
sustained attention from the
evangelical
constituency
all over the
West,
to the
dismay
at times of the historic churches.
The third case
study
come from Gerrie ter Haar's work on African churches
in The Netherlands
(ter
Haar
1998a, 1998b).
The arrival of African
congre-
gations (largely
of Ghanaian
origin)
in the
larger
cities of Holland
(notably
Amsterdam)
is a
relatively
recent
phenomenon,
more
recent,
for
example,
than
the establishment of
similar,
mostly Nigerian,
churches in Britain. Their
growth
in the 1990s
has,
none the
less,
been
rapid.
An essential feature of these
congregations
has been their
self-description
as interational rather than African
churches,
in other words
they
extend a welcome to
anyone
of
any
race and do
not consider themselves a form of African
religion
(i.e.
one that is
inappropriate
in
Europe).
Their
self-understanding
in fact
goes
further than this:
they
see
themselves as a
missionary
church in a secular continent.
Drawing
on the Old
Testament
image
of
'dry bones,'
many
Africans construct
Europe
as a
spiritual
desert to which
they
are called as
evangelists:
The reversal of
responsibilities implied
in this attitude
drastically
overturns the traditional
relations between Africans and
Europeans.
It is in
sharp
contrast with the conventional view
of
existing
north-south
relations,
often
equated
with black-white
relations,
and
hardly
conforms to the
marginal position
of the
majority
of Africans in
Europe.
On the
European
side,
this reversal of roles
appears
difficult to
appreciate
as it does not
comply
with the
stereotypes
often attached to Africa. Africans are
traditionally represented
as on the
receiving
end and
Europe
on the
giving
end of a
relationship
characterised
by unequal
transfer
(ter
Haar 1998a:168).
Hence the confusion of
many Europeans
in
trying
to
digest
the existence of
organizations
such as GATE
-
that is the
Gospel
from Africa to
Europe
-
which exists
amongst
other
places
in The
Netherlands,
arguably
the most secular
country
of
Europe.
The final
example
comes from the connections between Exeter
(a
mono-
cultural,
somewhat
traditional,
provincial city
in the South West of
England)
and the
Anglican
Church in Melanesia. In the summer of
2000,
this
city
received a visit from a
contingent
of Melanesian
Anglicans (to
be more
precise
a
group
of
young
men from an
Anglican
Order
-
a
demographic category
notably
absent from the Church of
England). They
came to Exeter at the invitation of
the
Bishop,
but in
part
to
pay homage
to one of the founders of
Anglicanism
in
Melanesia,
a
priest
who served his title in
Alfington,
a small
village
in the
Diocese of Exeter.
Anglicans
in the Diocese of
Melanesia,
it should be
remembered,
are active rather than nominal members of their
church,
quite
unlike the current state of their
fons
et
origo.
In the course of their visit to
Exeter,
the Melanesian team took
part
in the scheduled
Sunday morning
worship
in the
cathedral,
a
liturgy
which included a dramatic
presentation.
Still
dressed for this
aspect
of the
service,
their leader then
preached
from the
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472 SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
cathedral
pulpit
-
looking essentially
like the
'savage' depicted
in a children's
book of the immediate
post-war period.
At the end of the service the
Melanesians 'danced' the
congregation
and its
dignitaries
out of the cathedral.
This,
if ever there was
one,
was a reversal of
roles;
a visual
example, perhaps,
of
future
possibilities.
It is
interesting
to note that the whole
episode
was well-
received
by
a
normally
conservative cathedral
congregation
and
reported
favor-
ably
in the local
press.
What, though
is the
sociologist
of
religion
to make of it all? First and
foremost, surely,
to remember that
sociology
- like the world that it seeks to
describe - is
contingent.
With this in
mind,
it is most
unlikely
that
grand
theories
(not
least secularization
theory)
will
help
in our
understanding
of
global
civil
religion,
in that
they
are
insufficiently
flexible to deal with the new
patterns
and
exchanges
that are
emerging.
The notion of
global
civil
religion
can,
in
fact,
be
approached
in
any
number of
ways;
hence the different
'entry
points'
to the
subject
outlined above. All of them have reference to the
European
case,
a
part
of the world that must learn to listen as well as to
pronounce sociologically,
if it is to understand the innovative forms of
religion
that exist not
only
in other
parts
of the world but
increasingly
in its midst.
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