RIPT 4 – Religion in Public Talks – A. Kadir Yildirim on Religious Authority then a panel discussion with Amy Erica Smith, John Compton, and Paul Djupe – Feb 7, 5-6pm (e)

Series Conveners

Paul A. Djupe, Denison University, Political Science,

Amanda J. Friesen, Western University, Political Science,

Avital Livny, University of Illinois, Political Science,

Matthew R. Miles, BYU-Idaho, Political Science,

We invite you to join us for a monthly set of talks about religion and public life. Across the pandemic, one of the innovations that should remain is virtual gatherings to accompany academic conferences. Though there are many groups and organizations now convening such gatherings, missing from this space has been one focused on religion in public life for the professoriate (that is, beyond the excellent work being done for those in their early career by Shayla Olson and Hilary Zedlitz). This has always been needed since those who study religion in political science and sociology tend not to work in departments that host more than one religion scholar. 

  • Meetings will be the first Monday before the first Tuesday of every month, except during the summer months. 
  • They will last about an hour.
  • We hope to run them from 5-6pm (eastern) via Zoom.
  • Each session will feature two 15-20 minute talks (with 10-15 minutes of discussion). Except this one.
  • We aim for subfield concentrations; that may be comparative vs. American vs. international relations, or may be political behavior vs. institutions vs. social psychology, etc. 
  • Anyone with a PhD (or advanced graduate students) in the social sciences studying religion and public life is welcome to propose a talk  –  contact any or all of our conveners (emails above). 

To receive the Zoom link, you will need to register here. You can register there for one talk or for all talks. If you have registered for all talks, you do not need to register again.

You can always find the list of future and past presenters at the page.

RIPT 4 will be February 7, 2022, 5-6pm (eastern), with Paul Djupe (Denison University) convening. The presenter and panelists are:

Preaching Politics: How Politicization Undermines Religious Authority in the Middle East
—A. Kadir Yildirim, Rice University; coauthored with Scott Williamson, Sharan Grewal, and Mirjam Kuenkler

Abstract  A growing body of research demonstrates that political involvement by Christian
religious leaders can undermine the religion’s social influence. Do these negative consequences of politicization also extend to Islam? Contrary to scholarly and popular accounts that describe Islam as inherently political, we argue that Muslim religious leaders who engage in politics will weaken their religious authority. We test this argument with a conjoint experiment implemented on a survey of more than 12,000 Sunni Muslim respondents in 11 Middle Eastern countries. The results show that political involvement or affiliation with politically-active religious movements decreases the perceived religious authority of Muslim clerics, including among respondents who approve of the clerics’ political positions. The paper’s findings shed light on how Muslims in the Middle East understand the relationship between religion and politics, and they contribute more
broadly to an understanding of how political activity by religious actors can have negative
repercussions for religion.  

A. Kadir Yildirim (PhD, Ohio State University, 2010), is a Fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the acting director of the Center for Middle East at the Baker Institute. His main research interests include politics and religion, political Islam, and politics of the Middle East. Yildirim is the two author of two books—Muslim Democratic Parties in the Middle East: Economy and Politics of Islamist Moderation (Indiana University Press, 2015) and The Politics of Religious Party Change: Islamist and Catholic Parties in Comparative Perspective (under contract with Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2022). Yildirim currently leads the Henry R. Luce Foundation-funded project “The Umma in the Time of Corona: Exploring Muslim Responses to the 2020 Global Pandemic.” Previously, Yildirim’s work was by grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Henry R. Luce Foundation, and Smith Richardson Foundation in support of research on pluralism, religious authority and U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, and religious party politics. He published in journals such as Party Politics, Political Science Quarterly, Politics & Religion, Comparative European Politics, Representation, Democratization, Middle Eastern Studies, Sociology of Islam, and Soccer & Society. Yildirim’s opinion pieces have appeared in the Washington Post and Al Jazeera. Previously, Yildirim was a faculty member at Furman University and a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University’s Niehaus Center.

Religious Authority—A Panel Discussion

—Amy Erica Smith is an associate professor of political science as well as a Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Professor at Iowa State University. She is the author of three books, including Religion and Brazilian Democracy: Mobilizing the People of God (2019, Cambridge University Press), and many articles in academic outlets and public media. 

—John Compton is Associate Professor of political science at Chapman University. His research interests include religion and politics and American political development. His first book, The Evangelical Origins of the Living Constitution (Harvard, 2014), won the William Nelson Cromwell Award from the American Society for Legal History. His second book, The End of Empathy: Why White Protestants Stopped Loving Their Neighbors (Oxford 2020), received honorable mention for the Hubert Morken Book Award from the APSA Religion and Politics Section.

Paul A. Djupe is the director of the new Data for Political Research program at Denison University. His interests include religion and politics, gender and politics, and social networks, and he is the author/editor of a number of books including the forthcoming The Knowledge Polity: Teaching and Research in the Social Sciences (Oxford UP – next month! with Amy Erica Smith and Anand Sokhey) and ‘An Epidemic on My People’: Religion, Politics, and COVID-19 in the United States (Temple UP – end of the year, co-edited with Amanda Friesen). He is also the co-founder of the (post list) with Ryan Burge.

To receive the Zoom link, you will need to register here. You can register there for one talk or for all talks. If you have registered for all talks, you do not need to register again. Zoom links will be sent out the afternoon before the talk. We will endeavor to record the session for posterity.

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