The conceptual pair of “Religion and Politics” has been discussed in the last century excessively.
In the last years, this discussion has been knotted around the concept of “public sphere”. This situation becomes one of the focus points of the entrance process to European Union, which brings about many new debates on this theme.
As a concept of political philosophy, “public sphere” finds its place among the actual discussions. It plays a definitive role before the election of state presidency and the search for a new place for the religion out of the drawn lines around this concept leads to a new deterioration of the relations between religion, politics, state and society.
Actually, religion is a universal phenomenon faced in every society and every periods of history. It is also a discipline surrounding human being inwardly and outwardly, and reflecting itself on the ideas and behaviors of people. The last holy religion Islam comprises also ethical, judicial and social rules shaping the worldly life of man very different than Christianity. Politics represents not the daily politics but the whole of the mechanism regulating these judicial and social rules, government, political power etc. These two social institutions –religion and state- even function for a shared duty as the regulator of the social life. But, while fulfilling this task, different approaches on these institutions bring these institutions to an opponent positions in many respects. On the one side, a part of the society desiring to make every duties and orders of the religion in their individual and social life freely; on the other side, a mechanism prohibiting this with a number of reflexive movements, and desiring to keep the concept of religion in the outside realm of his own place. How to overcome this contest awaits already an answer; since many institutions claim that “the relations between religion-state-society in Turkey is one of the problematic areas within the democratisation movement in the European Union process.” This problem expects also to overcome within the framework of religious and conscience freedom.
According to the modern understanding accepted also by the countries of European Union, the religion and conscience freedom means generally that people are free to choose their religions. After their choice, they are also free to applicate the rules of their own religions without any intervention, and to be able to use the rights they have on this subject (teach, study, spreading, inspiration etc.). The dominant political power in our country has different definitions and applications of secularism and public sphere, which is constricting this sphere. The reasons for this constriction should be examined and a common solution should be offered.
The concept of public sphere serves in the West to provide for a very vast places for democracy and freedom and thus to constitute an open society. Whereas in Turkey, this concept causes the opposite as restricting the freedoms relating to the beliefs. This fact makes a question always actual: how would the relations between state and society normalize in our country which are already damaged?
Considering all of these facts, we decide our dossier subject in the 99th issue as “The Relations between Religion-Politics-Society in Public Sphere”. We plan to examine this issue around the concepts as “religion, politics, state, society, public sphere, law, justice, democracy, democratisation, civil society, European Union, political Islam, laicism, backwardness” and ask the following questions:
What is the public sphere? What are the limits of this concept from the point of the view of the political philosophy and sociology? How can we interpret the exclusion of the religion our of these limits from the point of view of freedom of religion and conscience? What should be the limits of the political influence of the politics and its institutions upon the religious institutions? What are the means for the existence of these two institutions in society without preventing the religious freedom and the application of the religious beliefs? How are these problems overcome in the West? How does the West approach to these issues? What should be as the defining and protective factor within the many different perspectives as “private-civil-public-political” for the practicability of religion? What is the significance of the state of law for these concepts? Is religion only a matter of conscience between the person and the existence he believes in? What are the limits of the worldy side of religion for the concepts as society-political power considering that religion has a social dimension over the individiual life, and also a worldly side over the moral side?
In this issue, we will read the anatomy of mentality that calls the concept of “public sphere” to assistance in a dressing issue as head scarf. Also, Nazmi Eroglu’s article have some insights to the traditionalization of a restricting approach to beliefs by the state. The existence of Bediüzzaman who argues a liberalist understanding as the current modern societies against the one dimensional liberal understanding of Abdullah Cevdet is an important source of experience to benefit during the process of our country to become a state of law. We hope that you can find in this issue the unfolding of this experience, the answer of the question of how the multi-religious and multi-cultural societies could live together without any conflict, and the basics of a democratic society.
Keywords: Public sphere, state, religion, freedom, civil, human rights, secularisation theory
Source: This article is the editorial writing of the akademic magazine Köprü/Summer 2007