Dr. Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins: “The Return of Anti-Protestantism"

Announcement: Lecture by Yale Professor Nov. 2 on “The Return of Anti-Protestantism: The Catholic Origins of Religious Freedom’s New Critics on the Left”

Dr. Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins of Yale University will be speaking about “The Return of Anti-Protestantism: The Catholic Origins of Religious Freedom’s New Critics on the Left” on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 7PM in Belk Library 114.

Dr. Steinmetz-Jenkins will examine the work of a number of contemporary anthropologists, political theorists, and theologians, arguing that their critique of western notions of secularism can be traced to an older and troubling intellectual lineage, that of reactionary Catholic anti-Protestantism (see the full abstract below).

Given the wide range of issues this talk addresses (religious freedom, the politics of secularism, the critique of Western categories for understanding non-Western societies, and Protestant and Catholic theology and history), this could be a good class to encourage students to attend.

This event is sponsored by the Departments of History, Anthropology, and Philosophy & Religion. It is free and open to the public.


“The Return of Anti-Protestantism: The Catholic Origins of Religious Freedom's New Critics on the Left.”

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins (Yale University)

Until the 1930s the Catholic Church and its thinkers had long proved hostile to religious freedom which it associated with Luther's Reformation and Enlightenment thought. With the rise of totalitarian regimes in the 1930s the Catholic Church embraced religious freedom and human rights as the best way to secure its existence against dictatorial regimes that threatened it. Yet after 1989, and especially as a consequence of the Iraq War and the financial crisis, many Catholic thinkers returned to a 19th century tradition of criticizing human rights and religious liberty as Protestant notions that had told the world asunder. Strangely the attempt to connect free market capitalism and liberal internationalism to the Protest Reformation by recent Catholic intellectuals has been picked up by scholars on the Left, specifically anthropologists and post-colonial scholars, critical of neoliberalism and what they perceived as the Christian biases of human rights and religious freedom discourse. In doing so they have aligned themselves with a long standing tradition of Catholic anti-Protestant thought that is often reactionary to the core.

Steinmetz-Jenkins’ bio: