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Prophesies of GodlessnessPredictions of America's Iminent Secularization from the Puritans to Postmodernity$
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Charles T Mathewes and Christopher McKnight Nichols

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195342536

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342536.001.0001

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 From 11/9/1989 to 9/11/2001 and Beyond

 From 11/9/1989 to 9/11/2001 and Beyond

The Return of Jeremiad and the Specter of Secularization

(p.209) 11 From 11/9/1989 to 9/11/2001 and Beyond
Prophesies of Godlessness

Joshua Yates

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines leading figures and institutions of the Religious Right in the United States and the distinctive narrative form its public and political activism has taken from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the present: namely, the jeremiad. The resurgence of publicly assertive religion has become the subject of intense scholarly scrutiny and the source of much political concern. Social scientists and policymakers have long presumed that as the world modernized it would inevitably secularize. The political ascendancy of the Religious Right in the United States and, more recently, the consequential militancy of radical Islamism confounds conventional wisdom of inevitable secularization. The chapter closes with a cursory comparison of the jeremiad with the jihad, the distinctive narrative form of radical Islamism, which reveals that despite strong rhetorical similarities between them, crucial differences persist in their political effects. Moreover, such a comparison reveals an important irony: just as the specter of resurgent religion has been undermining the longstanding academic confidence in the self‐evident inevitability of secularization, the perceived threat of secularization has been busy mobilizing the faithful both at home and abroad.

Keywords:   secularization, secularization theory, jeremiad, neo‐jeremiad, American religious right, religious life, public square, politics, religious fundamentalism, jihad, radical Islamism

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