Theology, Religious Studies and the Secular Academy: Rhetoric and the Control of Meanings

  • Timothy Fitzgerald University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Abstract

The debates among academics over whether Religious Studies belongs within Faculties of Theology, the Social Sciences or The Humanities is a distraction from a more fundamental issue, which is the pervasive and largely unquestioned assumption that religious experiences, practices and institutions are universally distinct in kind and essentially separate from non-religious ones. Theologians and non-theologians alike have contributed to constructing a modern discourse on ‘religion’ and ‘religions’ that tacitly embeds its distinction from ‘non-religious’ or ‘secular’ practices. What is assumed as a commonplace is best understood as a rhetorical construction, which historically has had the ideological function of subverting a much older understanding of ‘religion’ that inhibited class mobility and the growth of capital- ist institutions. The most notable feature of the study of ‘religions’ lies in the tacitly distinct and embedded ‘secular’ or non-religious ground from which the study is assumed to be conducted. It was this wider rhetoric that made possible a basic part of the warp and woof of modern consciousness, the non-religious state and the ubiquitous arena of ‘secular politics’.

Keywords: theology, religion, politics, secular, economics, state, sacred and profane

Author Biography

Timothy Fitzgerald, University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom.

TIMOTHY FITZGERALD is Reader in Religion at the University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom.

 

Published
2007-09-01
How to Cite
Fitzgerald, T. (2007). Theology, Religious Studies and the Secular Academy: Rhetoric and the Control of Meanings. Temenos - Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion, 43(2). https://doi.org/10.33356/temenos.7910
Section
Articles