10. Media

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

Martha Smith Roberts [+-]
Dennison University
Martha Smith Roberts is Assistant Professor of Religion at Denison University. Her primary research is a critical analysis of post-racial and post-ethnic theories of American religious pluralism. Roberts is also working on a co-authored manuscript with Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand, which analyzes the various spiritualities emerging within the hula hooping subculture. She sits on the Executive Committee for the North American Association for the Study of Religion, and she also serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Diversity and Civic Life in Austin, Texas.

Description

Whether intentionally or not much of our public discourse on religion involves a subtle, but incredibly powerful, distinction between “good” and “bad” religion. The implications of these labeling practices are far-reaching, indeed, for such judgments manifest in terms such as “fundamentalist,” “radical,” and “extremist,” words that are often the gauge by which governments worldwide determine everything from the parameters of religious freedom, to what constitutes an act of terrorism, to whether certain groups receive legal protections. Conversely, it is often surprising to see how different groups that may otherwise better typify the extremist profile remain unscathed by punitive governmental or social measures because of their pre-existing social popularity or perceived normalcy. This volume argues that public inquiry into religion is guided by unspoken value judgments, which are themselves the products of rarely-discussed political interests. Put differently, is quite easy for scholars to revoke or impart religious “credentials” to a group depending on whether that group’s members behave as outside commentators think religious people should . This volume opens with a critical introduction by Russell McCutcheon which lays out the nature of the issue and its practical ramifications. Next, a chapter from Aaron Hughes operates as a starting point for the book by demonstrating how one can analytically critique the good/bad religion rhetoric as it appears in scholarship today. Hughes’ chapter draws from feedback to his recent book, Islam and the Tyranny of Authenticity (Equinox, 2016), and serves as something of a frame for the rest of the chapters (many of which respond directly to Hughes’ arguments therein). From that point, the volume is organized around four different social institutions through which these value judgments have been established and deployed -- namely, within politics, the media, the university, and the classroom. After a short introduction by the editors that provides an overview of each section, that section begins with a chapter that highlights a particular case study or example of this good/bad distinction at work. The three to four responses that follow extrapolate from some element of the exemplar to provide an analysis on how such rhetoric operates in that particular social realm. The four sections are followed by a concluding essay by the editors.

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Citation

Smith Roberts, Martha. 10. Media. Hijacked! - A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of 'Good' and 'Bad' Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Feb 2020. ISBN 9781781797273. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=35422. Date accessed: 17 Jun 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35422. Feb 2020

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