Reflection on Secularization

The article I read for class this week was “Secularization and its Discontents” by Warner. Although this article was dense, it provided perspective into the changing theories of secularization in Europe. For this class session, I enjoyed how each group’s article gave a different perspective on secularization, some more in agreement than others. Even though none of the articles blatantly said that religion will completely disappear from society, I feel that many of the articles (including the one I read) over emphasized the role of secularization today. Many European countries are still rooted in Christian values and beliefs that drive the society. However, I think that Christianity is so normative that many aspects of society that are seen as “secular” may actually be Christian based. It is not until a different religion (such as Islam) is introduced that “religion” appears more visible, and is viewed in a negative light. While I agree that there is less of a need for religious institutions to provide health care, education, etc. Christianity may have just become so normalized that it is not seen as “religious” anymore. Secularization may just be the evolution of Christianity, and not necessarily the disappearance of religion in society.

From Warner’s article, there were specific ideas that I agreed with, and other ideas that I did not. For instance, while you cannot argue the empirical data of declining church attendance, as we have discussed in class and find in McGuire’s book that this may be due to the shift of institutionalized religion to a more spiritual case. One of Durkheim and Weber’s main points is that western modernity is inhospitable to religion. However, as I mentioned above, perhaps it is not “religion” but any religion other than Christianity. As we can see today, many countries in Europe and even America are not hospitable to Islam, while Christianity is welcomed. I think it is important to remember that Christianity it deeply rooted in many western cultures, and that the concept of “secularization” may just be the process of normalizing Christian values and beliefs in a society.