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The Secularization of Religious Studies

"My research focuses on the secularization of religion within Religious Studies and other academic fields. Throughout my time as a Religious Studies student I have observed religion being compared to secular activities such as football both in classroom discussion and in scholarly research. This leaves students with the impression that religion is not a tool which shapes society, but rather that religion is an obsolete human habit which a progressive society no longer needs. Research, such as that of Jonathan Haidt, which claims secular activities are a form of religion, positions religion’s functionality as more important than its spirituality. By treating religion as purely functional and excluding the spiritual as primitive we are saying that spirituality is archaic and not conducive to modern societies. Upholding secular logic as the key to understanding religion is a modern continuation of the linear evolution of religion in accordance with the, “natural evolution,” of society as outlined by George Galloway and J.Z. Smith.

I approach the topic of religion as an anthropological category, and secularization as a cultural mindset rooted in the colonial ideal of logical reasoning. My research will be based on the analysis of how the definition of religion within the field of Religious Studies has changed over the years as described by J.Z. Smith. Throughout my essay I will relate my findings to the process of Settler Memory, which is defined by Kevin Bruyneel, as the way in which settler societies reproduce settler and indigenous history in order to maintain settler colonialism as the social norm. The purpose of my research is to shed light on a pervasive issue within the field of Religious Studies and persuade scholars to rethink how religions are studied in order to abolish the modern-primitive dichotomy which erases Indigenous religions from our field of study."