4. Toward a Critique of Postsecular Rhetoric

Hijacked - A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of Good and Bad Religion - Leslie Dorrough Smith

Naomi Goldenberg [+-]
University of Ottowa
Naomi R. Goldenberg PhD (1976), Yale University, is Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies and former Director of Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa in Canada. Her publications include: Resurrecting the Body: Feminism, Religion and Psychoanalysis (Crossroad, 1993) and Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions (Beacon, 1979). She has co-edited Religion as a Category of Governance and Sovereignty (Brill, 2015) with Trevor Stack and Timothy Fitzgerald and is completing The End of Religion: Feminist Reappraisals of the State (Taylor and Frances) with Kathleen McPhillips. Her book, The Religious is Political: An Argument for Understanding Religions as Vestigial States is in progress.


This anchoring essay of the politics section introduces some of the theoretical considerations that exist when we consider how the power of nation-states intersects with the religious groups within them. It argues that religion and nation-states are both forms of social control that often work hand in hand. While states generally delegitimize religious groups when they act in violent ways, there are some very interesting moments—namely, those that are deemed “private” and “familial” and which often disproportionately affect women and children—where such groups’ harmful behaviors are considered outside the bounds of government sanction. The author describes this as it pertains to the metzitzah b’peh (oral suction after circumcision), a practice of some ultra-orthodox Jewish groups.

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Goldenberg, Naomi. 4. Toward a Critique of Postsecular Rhetoric. Hijacked - A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of Good and Bad Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781797273. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=35417. Date accessed: 17 Jan 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35417. Jul 2020

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