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Religious America, Secular Europe: Framing The Debate

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Chapter Summary

This chapter takes the election of Barack Obama as the forty-fourth president of the United States as its starting point, but uses this to ask deeper questions. It examines the role which religion played in the electoral process itself and - more importantly - the reactions of Europeans to this. The answer is interesting and reflects both the realities themselves and the capacities of European commentators to grasp what was happening. The chapter articulates an increasingly recognized theme: the connections between stronger versions of the secularization thesis and the European context from which they emerged. The active religiosity of the United States, the massive shift to the south of global Christianity, and the emergence of Islam as a major factor in the modern world order are some of these - the understanding of which is ill-served by theories that emerge from a specific, but a typical context.

Keywords: Barack Obama; European context; global Christianity; secularization thesis; United States



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