Duke Professor Finds Religion on Upswing
Worldwide fundamentalist trends have led to an upsurge in institutionalized religion, Duke University Professor of Religion Bruce B. Lawrence told an audience of about 60 students last night.
"The chameleon-like adaptation of institutional religion to both secularation and commodification" may foreshadow a world where politics and religion are inseparable, Lawrence said in his lecture, "Global Religion(s): Hope or Hoax of the 20th Century?"
Front and Center
Only recently has religion been front and center in the public profile and the return of public religion is "characterized by the 'f' word--fundamentalism," he said.
Lawrence cited Marian cults in Yugoslavia and the rise of Pentecostalism in Brazil as examples of the global shift toward fundamentalist religions.
He also referred to post-1979 Islamic Iran and Sikhism in the Indian state of Punjab as instances where "religion and politics, though cognitively separate, are functionally intertwined."
Lawrence predicted that "markedly particularistic cultures that will not give up their particularity" may continue to instigate religious conflict in unstable regions like Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Brazil.
Lawrence holds a B.A. in religion from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in religion from Yale University.
Lawrence's lecture was sponsored by the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions.