Chapter: 4. Toward a Critique of Postsecular Rhetoric
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.