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Secularism and State Policies toward Religion


  • 4 b/w illus. 14 tables
  • Page extent: 334 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.49 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521741347)

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Secularism and State Policies toward Religion
Cambridge University Press
9780521517805 - Secularism and State Policies toward Religion - The United States, France, and Turkey - By Ahmet T. Kuru

Secularism and State Policies toward Religion: The United States, France, and Turkey

Why do secular states pursue different policies toward religion? This book provides a generalizable argument about the impact of ideological struggles on the public policy-making process, as well as a state-religion regimes index of 197 countries. More specifically, it analyzes why American state policies are largely tolerant of religion, whereas French and Turkish policies generally prohibit its public visibility, as seen in their bans on Muslim headscarves. In the United States, the dominant ideology is “passive secularism,” which requires the state to play a passive role by allowing the public visibility of religion. The dominant ideology in France and Turkey is “assertive secularism,” which demands that the state play an assertive role in excluding religion from the public sphere. Passive and assertive secularism became dominant in these cases through certain historical processes, particularly the presence or absence of an ancien régime based on the marriage between monarchy and hegemonic religion during state-building periods.

Ahmet T. Kuru is Assistant Professor of Political Science at San Diego State University. He is currently a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at and Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. His dissertation, on which this book is based, received the Aaron Wildavsky Award for the best dissertation from the Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. He is the author of several articles that have appeared in journals such as World Politics, Comparative Politics, and Political Science Quarterly.

Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion, and Politics


David C. Leege
University of Notre Dame
Kenneth D. Wald
University of Florida, Gainesville

The most enduring and illuminating bodies of late-nineteenth-century social theory – by Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and others – emphasized the integration of religion, polity, and economy through time and place. Once a staple of classic social theory, however, religion gradually lost the interest of many social scientists during the twentieth century. The recent emergence of phenomena such as Solidarity in Poland; the dissolution of the Soviet empire; various South American, Southern African, and South Asian liberation movements; the Christian Right in the United States; and Al Qaeda have reawakened scholarly interest in religiously based political conflict. At the same time, fundamental questions are once again being asked about the role of religion in stable political regimes, public policies, and constitutional orders. The series Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion, and Politics will produce volumes that study religion and politics by drawing on classic social theory and more recent social scientific research traditions. Books in the series offer theoretically grounded, comparative, empirical studies that raise “big” questions about a timely subject that has long engaged the best minds in social science.

Titles in the series:

Joel S. Fetzer and J. Christopher Soper, Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany

Jonathan Fox, A World Survey of Religion and the State

Anthony Gill, The Political Origins of Religious Liberty

Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide

Secularism and State Policies toward Religion

The United States, France, and Turkey

Ahmet T. Kuru

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi

Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473, USA
Information on this title:

© Ahmet T. Kuru 2009

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2009

Printed in the United States of America

A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data

Kuru, Ahmet T.
Secularism and State policies toward religion: the United States, France, and
Turkey / Ahmet T. Kuru.
p. cm. – (Cambridge studies in social theory, religion, and politics)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-521-51780-5 (hardback) – ISBN 978-0-521-74134-7 (pbk.)
1. Religion and state. 2. Religion and state–United States. 3. Religion and state–
France. 4. Religion and state–Turkey. I. Title. II. Series.
BL65.S8K87 2008
3229.109–dc22  2008034153

ISBN 978-0-521-51780-5 hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-74134-7 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of urls for external or third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate. Information regarding prices, travel timetables, and other factual information given in this work are correct at the time of first printing, but Cambridge University Press does not guarantee the accuracy of such information thereafter.

To Ug˘ur and Çiçek, who were with me at the beginning of my life and Zeynep, who, I hope, will be with me at the end of it.


List of Figures and Tables
Glossary of Abbreviations
1             Analyzing Secularism: History, Ideology, and Policy
Part I:       The United States
2             Passive Secularism and the Christian Right’s Challenge (1981–2008)
3             Religious Diversity and the Evolution of Passive Secularism (1776–1981)
Part II:      France
4             Assertive Secularism and the Multiculturalist Challenge (1989–2008)
5             The War of Two Frances and the Rise of Assertive Secularism (1789–1989)
Part III:     Turkey
6             Assertive Secularism and the Islamic Challenge (1997–2008)
7             Westernization and the Emergence of Assertive Secularism (1826–1997)
Appendix A:   State-Religion Regimes Index of 197 Countries
Appendix B:   Human Development and Official Religion in 176 Countries
Appendix C:   State-Religion Regimes in Forty-Six Muslim Countries
Appendix D:   Turkey’s National Security Council Decisions, February 28, 1997

© Cambridge University Press
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