Location

Panel 05: Basil 210

Start Date

26-10-2012 3:30 PM

End Date

26-10-2012 5:00 PM

Description

In the current political climate, a glance at the nightly news shows from across the political spectrum will confront the viewer with various cultural conflicts—“wars”—being waged against, for example, women, the poor, the wealthy, the middle and working class(es), unions, marriage, drugs, and religion, among others. This paper will focus on one of these cultural conflicts: the “problem of (and war on) religion” and the appropriation of religious rhetoric as a political weapon of classification and pathologization of the religio-political other. The (video) text under analysis comes from The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell in a segment called The Rewrite on MSNBC in which the host addresses, among other things, Mitt Romney’s “religion problem” and the invention of secular humanism as a religion in an attempt to proffer a critique of the strategic rhetoric of religion in American cultural politics. A close reading of this text will highlight the self-referential tensions within and between two oppositional political persuasions that effect an interesting reversal in the process of wielding the weapon of religion against its political other. This approach will allow us to synthesize and contextualize the current religio-political rhetoric while concomitantly problematizing the entanglements of religion and politics in terms of the construction, classification, and dissemination of “religion” in popular culture. This study will address the following: (1) the strategic use of religious rhetoric as a means of pathologizing the religio-political other, especially in the context of the exclusion of a “religious Test” for public office (Article VI, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution); (2) the question and critique of the cultural construction (i.e., “invention”) of a “new religion” as it relates to Mormonism and Secular Humanism; (3) the implications of the former as an entrance into matters of classificatory and definitional propriety as they relate to popular cultural productions with respect to the slippery term “religion.”

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Oct 26th, 3:30 PM Oct 26th, 5:00 PM

A Religion Problem: Classification and the Pathologizing of the Religio-Political Other

Panel 05: Basil 210

In the current political climate, a glance at the nightly news shows from across the political spectrum will confront the viewer with various cultural conflicts—“wars”—being waged against, for example, women, the poor, the wealthy, the middle and working class(es), unions, marriage, drugs, and religion, among others. This paper will focus on one of these cultural conflicts: the “problem of (and war on) religion” and the appropriation of religious rhetoric as a political weapon of classification and pathologization of the religio-political other. The (video) text under analysis comes from The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell in a segment called The Rewrite on MSNBC in which the host addresses, among other things, Mitt Romney’s “religion problem” and the invention of secular humanism as a religion in an attempt to proffer a critique of the strategic rhetoric of religion in American cultural politics. A close reading of this text will highlight the self-referential tensions within and between two oppositional political persuasions that effect an interesting reversal in the process of wielding the weapon of religion against its political other. This approach will allow us to synthesize and contextualize the current religio-political rhetoric while concomitantly problematizing the entanglements of religion and politics in terms of the construction, classification, and dissemination of “religion” in popular culture. This study will address the following: (1) the strategic use of religious rhetoric as a means of pathologizing the religio-political other, especially in the context of the exclusion of a “religious Test” for public office (Article VI, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution); (2) the question and critique of the cultural construction (i.e., “invention”) of a “new religion” as it relates to Mormonism and Secular Humanism; (3) the implications of the former as an entrance into matters of classificatory and definitional propriety as they relate to popular cultural productions with respect to the slippery term “religion.”