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


Author: Ahmet T. Kuru
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication Place: n\a
Pages: 307
ISBN: 9780521517805
Category: n\a


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.

Table of contents


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). Conclusion

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

Bibliography. Index