[The Second Section]
Today, at least three series of historical facts make us question the relation between religion and the state, established with the separation theory. I am considering: a) the circumstance in which a state, which proclaims itself to be neutral regarding citizens’ beliefs (including the religious ones), cannot constrain them to act outside their convictions and does not remain liberal unless it allows them to act as citizens with certain convictions (religious included); b) the circumstance in which democracies are not sustainable unless they possess cultural resources which are generated, however, by means of morals, by religious traditions; c) the circumstance in which, in the name of certain religions, political actions take place, some of which are positive (such as democratic growth), others are negative (terrorism). All these series of facts obscure the established thesis of the separation between religion and state. Let us elaborate.
With regard to a): when in a society, several conceptions, including the religious ones, co-exist, the citizens usually appeal to two “strategies” - the “outsourcing” of a conception, by the citizen, to the detriment of another’s conception, or the “internalizing”, in other words, considering the other’s conception as one that can be absorbed by one’s own conception. But, religious attitudes are articulated in relation to reality as a whole[^34] Whilst scientific attitude is promoted in the third person, religious attitude is promoted in the first. “Religious beliefs and practices are, on the one hand,expressive andindividualizing : they foster man’s deepest and most powerful individual valorisations, those formative attitudes which serve self-understanding, that are intimately connected to man’s specific access to the world. On the other hand, they arepropositional anduniversalistic : their content transcends the individual, they claim to express something about reality in its entirety and they want - at least when most great religions are concerned - to be valid for all people”[^35] This being said, the pluralism of views, including the religious ones, must be taken seriously: the pluralism of views is approached as “expressivity” and “individualisation”, and it claims the taking into consideration as such of all religious symbols.
Thus, no citizen - neither the secularised, nor the religious one, neither the citizen who shares a religion, nor the one sharing a different one - is absolved of the duty to justify his statements and actions, in reasonable terms accepted by cohabitation in society, as the state based on individual liberties cannot legitimately stop the reasonable manifestation of any citizen, including under religious aspects. Habermas was right to draw attention to the fact that a state’s expectations of its citizens “is in vain (laufen ins Leere )” if the “reciprocity of expectations” is not ensured[^36] Any disregard for the rule of reciprocity is counterproductive. “As long as the secularised citizen is convinced that religious traditions and religious communities are somewhat archaic, a relic which was transmitted from modern societies until the present day, they understand religious liberty only as a natural cultural protection pertaining to dying species. From their perspective, religion no longer has an inner righteousness. At this point, the principle of separating religion from the state can only have the secular meaning of a satisfied lack of interest (schonenden)[^37] To get back to the rule of reciprocity, which is,
explicitly or tacitly, contained in the very principles of the democratic construction of the liberal state as such, is today more necessary than ever.
Can the state remain neutral in relation to the citizens’ conceptions? It has been rightfully observed that the state has never been neutral towards the conceptions citizens have and cannot stay as such in any condition. Sometimes, the democratic state intended to be detached, it tolerated conceptions which destroyed it and it paid a high price for that “detachment”. Generally, the state cannot stay democratic unless it cares for every citizen, including minorities of any kind (political, ethnic etc.). The state remains an advocate of tolerance, but it must tie that tolerance to the truth[^38] It would be advisable, on the other hand, to go back to the originary acceptation of “secularism” attributed to the state by the advocates of the separation between the state and religion. It should be said that “secularism” did not originally mean an a priori opposition to any religious conception, rather, at least at the dawn of modern age, the prejudice-free search for the “truth”. As it was recently put, “«secularism» shows a way of reflecting, of analysing and generating ideas and contents”[^39] Secularism means independence from trends of faith, but not necessarily an opposition to the belief.
With regard to b): in many historical circumstances the democratisation and the well-functioning of democracies have depended a lot on cultural resources. In one of my books, I spoke about the “cultural turn” of societies in late modernity and I drew attention to the dependence on the culture of politics and economy[^40] There is one aspect I wish to emphasize here: democracy becomes democratura (a false democracy) when the cultural resources which nurture self-respect, the trust in the rule of reciprocity, the respect for others and the solidarity on behalf of a common destiny are deficient.
The problem was signalled under other truly deep aspects. Habermas, for instance, showed once more (most recently inEin Bewusstsein von dem, was fehlt , 2007) that “reason”, as it was understood in the modern age, as one particularly following procedures, has an “immanent defeatist tendency”[^41] The philosopher draws attention to the fact that, along with the separation of the state from the church, of politics from religion, we are left in confusion regarding the relation between “secular reason” and “religion”, even if, in fact, “there is a specific dialectic” between “modernity’s enlightened self-understanding and the theological understanding of the self of universal religions”[^42] Today, Habermas brings forth solid arguments when talking about the “complementarity (Komplementarität )” of the two forms of conscience and the need for both to have “learning processes (Lernprozesse )”, after the traditional “syntheses” of faith and conscience, put in motion from Augustine to Toma, the connection between Jerusalem and Athens was destroyed. Today, “the immanent defeatism of secular reason is a major problem that specialisations encounter in social sciences and in the philosophy of the moments of “Enlightenment dialectics”, as well as in the naturalism spreading in environmental sciences. “However, if we set in motion similar learning processes in the contexts of religious and metaphysical world, then both ways, faith and knowledge, with their
traditions originating in Jerusalem and Athens, belong to the history of building secular reason, where the sons and daughters of modernity understand each other and their place in the world today. This modern reason will begin to understand itself only if it clarifies its position regarding contemporary religious conscience become reflexive…”[^43] Religion must accept the cognitive authority of science, but science must grasp the fact that in its own construction religion has played a part. Moreover, from thetheology become reflexive, secular reason receives even today fertile impulses[^44] .
“Universal politics”, which is able to ensure equal rights and liberties for all members of a society, remains indispensable. It presupposes the convergence of interests to rules that have yet to become universal. What has become clear in the meanwhile is the fact that “it’s not possible to put up an adequate model of universal politics by “neutralizing” the substantial visions, especially religious ones”[^45] Thus, there is a need for a state which ensures “in an adequate form a civil plural society” instead of a “distanced” state, anonymous and alien to traditions of human interaction. We are not talking about a new “confessional state”, but about a “new secularism (nuova laicità )” - a new search for convergences, instead of the separation which, in time, has become anachronic and rigid.
With regard to c): in his encyclical,Ecclesia in Europa (2000), Pope John Paul II mentioned the commitment of the church to European values, in the most adequate terms possible: “Mit Freude stellen wir die zunehmende Öffnung der Völker aufeinander hin fest, die Versöhnung zwischen Nationen, die lange Zeit verfeindet waren, die fortschreitende Ausdehnung des Einigungsprozesses auf die Länder Osteuropas. Es wachsen Anerkennung, Zusammenarbeit und Austausch aller Art, so daß nach und nach eine europäische Kultur, ja ein europäisches Bewußtsein entsteht, das hoffentlich, besonders bei den Judendlichen, das Gefühl der Brüderlickeit und den Willen zum Teilen wachsen läßt”[^46] . By this, no confusion should be made between religion and politics, between the state’s and the church’s role. This was emphasized as clearly as possible by Cardinal Ratzinger, when he showed “Überblickt man diese Zusammenhänge, so wird eine sehr nüchterne Sicht des Staates deutlich: Es kommt nicht auf die persönliche Gläubigkeit oder die subjektiven guten Intentionen der Staatsorgane an. Sofern sie Frieden und Recht garantieren, entsprechen sie einer göttlichen Verfügung; in heutiger Terminologie würden wir sagen: Sie stellen eine Schöpfungsordnung dar. Gerade in seiner Profanität ist der Staat zu achten; er ist vom Wesen des Menschen als animal sociale et politicum her notwendig, in diesem menschlichen Wesen und damit schöpfungsmäßig begründet. In alledem ist zugleich eine Begrenzung des Staates enthalten: Er hat seinen Bereich, den er nicht überschreiten darf; er muss das höhere Recht Gottes respektieren. Die Verweigerung der Anbetung des Kaisers und überhaupt die Verweigerung des Staatskultes ist im Grunde einfach die Ablehnung des totalitären Staates“[^47] . Cardinal Grocholewski has shown most convincingly the degree of the commitment of the Catholic Church to the doctrine of people’s natural rights[^48] On the other hand, politics remains an “area of reason”, but
of a reason which is not simply instrumental; rather, one that is infused with morals coming from different sources, including from religions.
It must be said that the ingression into politics by religions is inevitable, regardless of how clear the proclaimed separation between the state and religious institutions, politics and religion may be. After all, democracy would not have been possible without the cultural resources originating from the Judeo-Christian tradition, and European unification cannot even be conceived without the enormous resource of motivation which was American Christianity. We have many positive examples of the birth and support of democratisations, and of the application of human rights by the people acting on behalf of religious institutions and under the umbrella of religion.
Religion, however, has shown us a different aspect, too: that of “pathologies”. As there are “pathologies of the reason”, there are also “pathologies of religion”. “The terrorist attacks of 9/11 have only shocked many people, and have made them conscious of global terrorist networks, which see themselves as the result of a specific politisation of one of the greatest universal religions, that of the Islam”[^49] In fact, this is a turn to “religious justification for the political act” (religiöse Rechtfertigung politischen Handeln)”, so that we will have to accept the shift to “the end of Postmodernity (Ende der Postmoderne)”, in spite of the a-theoretical demands of Postmodernism. At the same time, the age of secularisation is over and we can talk about “the end of the secularisation theory (das Ende der Säkularisierungstheorie)”[^50] .
But what connotation should we give secularisation? There are multiple understandings of it. Charles Taylor circumscribed three meanings of secularisation: setting free the state’s institutions from legitimation through “devotion to or faith in God”; the decession of religious faith and of corresponding practices; considering faith an option among others[^51] As I have shown elsewhere[^52] , secularisation is a term derived from canonical law (the passing of a person or of goods from an order or church to civil, mundane statute), it gradually passes to constitutional law and, eventually, to the philosophy of history. In the current speech, however, I am more interested in secularisation as the alleged decrease in the weight of religion in social life and as its retreat into the private area, due to the increasing share of the state and politics in people’s lives. The situation and perspectives of this secularisation are what we have to focus on right now. In fact, the importance of religion in social life has not diminished and religion has not withdrawn into private life. If it does, the democracies will lose.