Michael Brown

What happens when religious institutions do not have a real stake, especially where political institutions are designed precisely to avoid them having a stake?

In contemporary world, there is a post-Enlightenment feeling that recognition is best we can do instead of accommodation:  e.g. Martha Nussbaum New Religious Intolerance worried about European (vs. US) responses to terrorism > narcissism of fear: we get obsessed with our own concerns, which leads to failure of sympathy

> but MN takes no account of existence of Church as historical entity, including Catholics who opposed Nazism etc. > she implicitly treats Catholic as political identity even though this is what she critiques > in fact, to be Catholic does not imply kind of politics

Confessional British state post-1688: Penal Code creates cognitive dissonance by which Hanoverian means Protestant, Jacobite Catholic etc.

  • Jacobite, Catholic French-based court in exile
  • William of Orange > Protestant, Hanoverian

> what was legislated against is “papists” and “popery” even though debate among Catholics about supremacy of Pope and especially his power to depose monarchs

Act appeals to “popish mob” as well as “degradation of senses” in Catholicism, and ends up expelling people who don’t exist i.e. “Papists” when no one will identify as such

> problem is equating religious and political communities

In fact Catholics could engage in quasi-legal ways with state > reality of Catholic engagement even if conditional

  • bringing court cases
  • Freemasonry could be example of space in which interact
  • paying fee to (Protestant) incorporation by which get economic but not political rights: “quarter brother” though not fully-fledged “citizen”
  • Relief Acts bring in Catholics etc.

Not until 1789 that Catholic Emancipation… but not Catholic majority into Irish state but minority into British state, which raises question of land distribution

Not to suggest loyalty to state and fealty to God are same, but need to think politicisation > how politics takes up central position in imagination: how people come to think there might be “political” answer to problems

  • bringing people in
  • mobilising sympathy of citizens

Not to impose politics on religious community if it can hamper dealings with state.


John Perry: explain why they are calling them “papists” as opposed to legislating more precisely e.g. for those who want Popes to depose monarchs

> MB what fear is not real people but people who they imagine that exist

Ajay: distinction between religion and political is very formal and institutional, e.g. in India: many practices that conflate religious and political e.g. moralisation

? when religious movements are excluded, this is arguably when become political

> MB in 18th century supposed to share religious point of view as part of state; but religious and state authorities interact, thus talking in terms of belief system is to simplify

Andrea Warnecke: how different is this to other conflicts in which groups may question legitimacy of state?

> MB politics of fear includes anti-Communism etc. but greater potential for existential conflict with relation to religion

Silvia P: contrasts case of Salafis in France when question of how they dress vs. in Ireland when question of political views about Pope etc.

> MB religion doesn’t necessarily give you politics

Younes: “fundamentalist” used similarly to indicate something that incorporates religion but much more general than it

> MB some of political problems in Middle East have religious connotations

Tamas: are you claiming that Western states impose political identity on Catholics?

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