“Use Words Only If Necessary”: The Strategic Silence of Organized Religion in Contemporary Europe
The consideration of religious variables in comparative politics entered the scholarly discussion relatively late, but several important works over the past few years have considered the possibilities and obstacles religion presents to a democratic society. Among other concerns, this scholarship asks how the work of religious interest associations might promote greater social capital, civic engagement, empowerment, and participation among the poor and other socially marginalized groups. This literature builds on both the social capital and democratic deepening approaches and is consistent with the concepts of muted vibrancy and strategic silence. This introduction presents the case-studies in the volume, asking whether the concepts of muted vibrancy and strategic silence help to provide a robust theoretical understanding of the role of faith-based organizations in contemporary European society.