View Book


ID: 2594 - View Book Page - Edit In OJS

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.

Published: Feb 15, 2020

Book Contributors


Section Chapter Authors
Part 1: First Thoughts
1. Introduction Russell McCutcheon
2. Good Muslim, Bad Muslim - 'Neo-Orientalism' and the Study of Religion Aaron Hughes
3. Response to Hughes Jason Josephson Storm
Part 2: How we Talk about 'Hijacked' Religion
4. Introduction to Politics Section Leslie Smith, Steffen Führding, Adrian Hermann
5. Politics Naomi Goldenberg
6. Response to Goldenberg Vaia Touna
7. Response to Goldenberg K. Merinda Simmons
8. Response to Goldenberg Matt Sheedy
9. Introduction to Media Section Leslie Smith, Steffen Führding, Adrian Hermann
10. Media Martha Smith Roberts
11. Response to Roberts Carmen Becker
12. Response to Roberts Leslie Smith
13. Response to Roberts Craig Prentiss
14. Response to Roberts Steffen Führding
15. Introduction to University Section Leslie Smith, Steffen Führding, Adrian Hermann
16. University Adrian Hermann
17. Response to Hermann Stephanie Gripentrog
18. Response to Hermann Christopher Cotter
19. Response to Hermann David Kaldewey
20. Introduction to Classroom Section Leslie Smith, Steffen Führding, Adrian Hermann
21. Classroom David Robertson
22. Response to Robertson Riem Spielhaus
23. Response to Robertson Mitsutoshi Horii
24. Response to Robertson Wanda Alberts
25. Response to Robertson Suzanne Owen
26. Conclusion Leslie Smith, Steffen Führding, Adrian Hermann