The Place of Religion in the Iconography of Democracy and the Politics/Aesthetics of ‘Representation’ (Race/Religion/Sex)

Yvonne Sherwood


Looking (briefly) at a few test cases, this article raises some preliminary questions about crude and aporetical uses of the category ‘religion’ in European law, public policy, and what might be called the cultural aesthetics of the democratic. In particular I explore awkward updates of blasphemy legislation. Symptomatically, these a) pluralise religion to the point where lack of religion, or as the revised German criminal code of 1969 puts it Weltanschauungsvereinigungen (‘World-View Organisations’?) are welcomed under the canopy of protection, provided that they can prove quasi-religious status; and b) rework religion as a category akin to race in legislation against racial and religious ‘hate’. I also briefly probe anti-discrimination legislation in England and Wales, where a so-called ‘philosophical’ belief can qualify as religious belief, worthy of the same protection, if it can be proved that ‘it is a belief and not an opinion or view based on the present state of information available’; it is ‘genuinely held’; it is ‘compatible’ with ‘human dignity’ and ‘human rights’; it is ‘weighty and substantial’ and attains a ‘certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance’.


Bible; politics; representation; public sphere

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391