Bu çalışmada son dönemlerde sosyoloji ve din sosyolojisinin temel konuları arasına giren sivil din ve politik din teorileri ele alınmaktadır. Gerek sivil din gerekse politik din kavramları genellikle din-toplum ve din-devlet arasındaki ilişkilerin niteliği bağlamında başvurulan kavramlardır. Günümüzde politika ve din arasındaki ilişkileri ele alan çalışmalar artık tek bir akademik alan ile sınırlandırılamayacak ölçüde genişlemiş olsa da, burada sosyolojik bir perspektif ile konuya yaklaşılmaya çalışılmıştır. Her ne kadar literatürde, genel itibarla, sivil din kavramı din-toplum veya din-devlet ilişkilerinde bir doğallığa, kendiliğinden gelişen bir toplumsal duruma işaret ettiği için daha çok demokratik ve liberal rejimlerin bir niteliği; politik din ise, tam tersine, bir dayatmaya, önceden tasarlanan politik bir ajandaya gönderme yaptığı için otoriter ve totaliter rejimlerin bir niteliği olarak karşımıza çıksa da, iki kavram arasında bir netliğin bulunmadığı dolayısıyla konuyla ilgili tartışmaların devam ettiği bilinmektedir. Bu çalışmanın temel amacı bu iki kavram arasındaki belirsizliğin giderilmesine katkı sunmaktır. Bu çerçevede, çalışmada sivil din ve politik din kavramlarının tarihî arka planına inilmeye gayret edilmiş, aralarındaki belirsizliğin nedenleri tespit edilmeye çalışılmıştır. Ayrıca her iki kavrama ilişkin yapılan eleştiriler ve nedenleri üzerinde durulmasının yanı sıra, onların arasındaki farklılıklar ve benzerlikler, karşılaştırmalı bir bakış açısıyla ortaya konulmaya çalışılmıştır. Bu yönüyle çalışmamız, söz konusu iki kavramın sınırlarını, kullanım alanlarını, işaret ettikleri toplumsal durumları, benzer ve farklı yanlarını ortaya koyma hedefindeki çalışmalara, kendi ölçeğinde, katkı sunmayı hedeflemektedir.
The concepts of civil religion and political religion are used by researchers in modern times to explain the relationship between religion and politics and the relationship between religion and society. However, in this literature it has been noticed that there is no clear distinguish between these two concepts. One of the main reasons for such conclusion is that Jean J. Rousseau, the producer of the concept of ‘civil religion’, developed it to construct reality, which is now described as political religion. It is clear that Rousseau's approach is political, even though he called it ‘civil religion’. Because his definition of civil religion is the support of the state or to the strengthening of the laws of the state. He, therefore, tried to assure the loyalty of the citizens to the state in order to build a “dependent social order". The main goal here is to reinforce the responsibility of the citizens for social stability and the common good.
When one looks at the civil theory of religion, which has become one of the major issues of sociology and the sociology of religion today, it can be noticed that it is used in a way other than what Rousseau meant. The main reason for this is that in 1967 Robert Bellah used the concept of the forgotten civil religion to interpret and explain the American way of life. While Bellah gave the civil religion its contemporary meaning, he made almost no reference to Rousseau except to say that the concept belonged to Rousseau. Instead, he followed the theory of the French sociologist Emile Durkheim, who considered the phenomenon of religion in a culturally and sociologically manner. Other studies that contributed to the literature of civil religion, largely following the Bellah’s Durkheimian tradition; in fact, the concept of civil religion was produced to indicate a different social situation that has gained its current meaning. However, Rousseau made his views on civil religion clear, and positioned them in the sphere of the ideological and political issues as oppose to civil society, which are cultural and sociological issues. Therefore, it is necessary to look here for the origins of the ambiguity in understanding the concepts of civil and political religion.
This study, in accordance with its purpose, tried to focus on this situation and tried to contribute to the studies aimed at revealing the boundaries, usage areas, social situations they pointed out and similar and different aspects of these two concepts at their own scale. In this context, when one looks at the concept of civil religion, it can be seen that it was neither defined by Rousseau, the eponym of the concept, nor by Bellah, who gave it the contemporary meaning known today. The concept was defined by researchers such as Hammond and Coleman, who adopted the Durkheimian perspective that Bellah also followed. According to this, civil religion is a concept which is applied in the interpretation of the connection between the individual, the society and the state with the sacred area through a number of beliefs, rituals and symbols. Thus, civil religion emerges as a cultural form of spontaneous social life without any imposition, pressure and coercion, and sees the entire society on a non-ideological basis. In other words, it is assumed that the process of civil religion will produce collective meanings that represent the spontaneous approval of social order. Therefore, no one shall be compelled to follow or support the principles of any faith. It is unacceptable that those who do not accept the principles of a faith are under threat. Civil religion is institutionalized through the existing order and its educational institutions, so people experience the principles of civil religion to a large extent without realizing it and questioning it. The characteristic values of a given community or nation are embodied in institutions where they can continue their existence. This implies that it is intended to be engrained in citizens and to some extent that it requires them to comply with their requirements, but these requirements will not be imposed on them.
The concept of political religion, on the other hand, has been used to describe the practices of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. In these regimes, this concept has been applied to the attribution of holiness to the political order, glorification of the parties and leaders, and interpretation of the rituals and symbols created within this framework. It is remarkable that the concept was initially used by religious theologians in a negative sense, although it has been criticized for being baseless and unrelated to religion. They saw political religion as a result of secularization, which they saw as a process of collapse, and a deviation from true religion. The sanctification of a regime, foreseeing a monist structure, being far from tolerance against differences by considering the opposition as a source of threat to the social unity as it disrupts the social harmony, and tries to squelch it. This can be done through imposing their own principles as a necessity, desiring to penetrate and dominate every aspect of life which can be seen as the main features of religions.
In this respect, although sometimes there is a situation of uncertainty between political and civil religion, these two terms actually refer to different social situations. In short, political religion represents the repressive character of authoritarian regimes. In this respect, the desired order and its requirements are generally imposed on people in an arbitrary manner. In civil religion, however, people experience faith, piety, or simply a common religion. In the doctrine of civil religion, it is essential that cooperation and integration do not require obedience. On the other hand, political religion demands a loyalty and unconditional commitment that does not accept questioning. Civil religion is on the side of society and political religion is on the side of the state. As a natural consequence of this, civil religion is dominant where civil society is strong, and political religion is dominant where society is weak.