Craig Calhoun looks at how religion has factored into historical change.
Religion is of great historical interest. But historical interest doesn’t mean just interest about the past, it means interest in the path by which we became who we are today, and some of that reflects things that are still going on. So it’s still the case that the way in which people become engaged in religious activities, communities, services, shapes how they get engaged in social movements.
So if we look back at the 17th century and we say, oh, the era of the English Civil War, and religion was very much a part of public activity, we can also see that that happens over and over again in the modern era. It’s part of the civil rights movement in the United States, it’s part of revolutionary agitation, it’s part of social justice campaigns, it’s part of environmentalism, it’s part of peace movements. Not everybody in any of those movements is there because of religious motivations, but there’s a shaping religious influence on each of those movements.