Habermas on Post-Secularism

Habermas In the Turkish Daily News:

Today, secularism is often based on “hard” naturalism, i.e., one based on scientistic assumptions. Unlike the case of cultural relativism, this time I need not comment on the philosophical background. For what interests me in the present context is the question whether a secularist devaluation of religion, if it were one day to be shared by the vast majority of secular citizens, is at all compatible with that post-secular balance between shared citizenship and cultural difference I have outlined. Or would the secularistic mindset of a relevant portion of the citizenry be just as appetizing for the normative self-understanding of a post-secular society as the fundamentalism of a mass of religious citizens in fact is? This question touches on deeper roots of the present unease than the “multiculturalist drama”. Which kind of problem do we face?

It is to the credit of the secularists that they, too, insist on the indispensability of including all citizens as equals in civil society. Because a democratic order cannot simply be imposed on those who are its authors, the constitutional state confronts its citizens with the demanding expectations of an ethics of citizenship that reaches beyond mere obedience to the law. Religious citizens and communities must not only superficially adjust to the constitutional order. They are expected to appropriate the secular legitimation of constitutional principles under the very premises of their own faith. It is a well-known fact that the Catholic Church first pinned its colors to the mast of liberalism and democracy with the Second Vaticanum in 1965. And in Germany, the Protestant churches did not act differently. Many Muslim communities still have this painful learning process before them. Certainly, the insight is also growing in the Islamic world that today an historical-hermeneutic approach to the Koran’s doctrine is required. But the discussion on a desired Euro-Islam makes us once more aware of the fact that it is the religious communities that will themselves decide whether they can recognize in a reformed faith their “true faith”.