Religious speech embarrassed, radio debates and controversies around gender: Switzerland and France, 2006-2016
Religious speech remains very present in secular societies. This project investigates the embarrassment of religious speech as it is expressed in the public space in Switzerland and France, two secularized countries with active religious actors who manage to provoke controversy through media statements. These controversies – which vary in scope – relate in particular to gender regulations, gender equality and the recognition of the plurality of sexualities. This resurgence of the public role of religions in contemporary societies has fueled post-secular perspectives in philosophy and the social sciences, which are critical of the link between modernity and secularization and invite a better consideration of the place of religion in the public spaces of liberal societies. Whether Christian, Muslim or of other religions, religious discourse is affected by a variety of embarrassments: it is no longer self-evident, especially when it acquires visibility and claims to enunciate a truth that is valid for all. In view of this situation, some religious actors try to secularize the expression of their convictions when they take part in a controversy – as in the Catholic opposition to homosexual marriage and gender issues – or rely on a rhetoric of rights to respond to criticism of their practice.
In order to apprehend this embarrassment in France and Switzerland, quantitative and qualitative aspects are articulated, based on two daily prime-time radio programs. The quantitative component aims to map a corpus of more than 7,000 programs over 10 years (2006–2016). The qualitative part pursues the identification of religious actors. This research will enable an empirical questioning of the way in which religious mobilization on issues of gender and sexuality redefines the rules of interlocution in secularized public spaces and transforms the speech of religious actors.