Of Sweden and India

Peter Berger illuminates an audience at a conference on religion and politics about the dynamic of American secularization:

“I think the term ‘culture war,’ while it may be a slight exaggeration, refers to something which is sociologically real.  I would say, looking at the United States that what you have is a heavily religious population with a highly secular cultural elite, and it’s out of that cultural elite that these court cases come – outraged atheists in Arizona who object to Christmas trees or whatever.  Now, the image I view – two extremes as Sweden and India, OK?  Sweden – highly secularized society, minus 2 percent believe in God, that kind of thing – and India, where you take four steps and you meet six gods, OK?  Well, you could describe the Unites States as an Indian society with a Swedish cultural elite, and much of the history of American politics since 1963 – a pivotal year because of the Supreme Court decision on prayer in public schools – has been dominated by increasingly pissed-off Indians.”

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