This article grew out of participation in the Workshop on Uto-Aztecan Religions and Cosmologies. The goal of the workshop was to explore similarities and differences in the religions and cosmologies of the various Uto-Aztecan societies. In this article I follow two lines of inquiry: The one promotes a comparative discussion of cosmological structural systems, and the other attempts to identify one or more motifs which might prove to be evident in Uto-Aztecan mythologies. Based on the religion of the Hopi Indians of Arizona, I suggest that one of the most productive motifs is that of gender. For the Hopis it is shown that cosmology and gender seem to converge in social and religious statements about gender that include androgynous and duogynous themes. Insights from mythology and ritual are then applied to the social ideals and practices of the Hopis.
This essay sketches out a biocultural theory of religion which is based on an expanded view of cognition that is anchored in brain and body (embrained and embodied), deeply dependent on culture (enculturated) and extended and distributed beyond the borders of individual brains. Such an approach uniquely accommodates contemporary cultural and neurobiological sciences. Since the challenge that the study of religion faces, in my opinion, is at the interstices of these sciences, I have tried to develop a theory of religion which acknowledges the fact. My hope is that the theory can be of use to scholars of religion and be submitted to further hypotheses and tests by cognitive scientists.
This article briefly surveys and compares the histories of research in the comparative science of religion (beginning with Friedrich Max Müller) and the anthropology of religion. The article notes the close interactions between these two fields and argues that the comparative science of religion drew significant inspiration from anthropology and sociology during the twentieth century until about the 1970s when anthropology came under heavy fire from critics. The postcolonial, feminist, and postmodern wave did not have a significant impact on the comparative science of religion until the 1990s. But already during the 1980s a new approach to religion, championed by Jonathan Z. Smith, contributed to a theoretical and critical analysis of religion that neither bought into postmodernism nor into the sui generis approach to religion. During the 1990s, another new approach began making an impact, namely, the cognitive science of religion, championed by E. Thomas Lawson, Robert N. McCauley (both scholars of religion), and Pascal Boyer (anthropologist). The article suggests in conclusion that the two disciplines can once again meet in the growing fields of experimental anthropology and experimental science of religion and in the need to explore and address how culture affects and rewires the brain. Furthermore, evolutionary theory is also beginning to serve as a common framework for thinking about religion.
The Constitution of Denmark of 1849 establishes the Evangelical Lutheran Church as the Church of Denmark, which “shall as such be supported by the State.” A handful of other denominations enjoyed recognition by royal decree until this practice was ended in 1970 with the new Marriage Act which allowed church weddings with civil validity to take place not only in the Church of Denmark but also in recognized denominations and other religious communities that obtain authorization from the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs. In 1998 an expert committee was established to advise the Minister on applications for denominational recognition. The committee consisted of myself, a historian of religions and chairman, sociologist of religion Ole Riis, later replaced by Margit Warburg, Church historian Jørgen Stenbæk, later replaced by Per Ingesman and professor of law Eva Smith, later replaced by Jens Elo Rytter. In the fall of 2007, a cabinet reorganization in the Liberal-Conservative Government led to a reorganization of the legal body responsible for the recognition of minority denominations. Thus the judicial process, including the expert committee, was transferred to the Department of Justice under the Section of Family Affairs. Since 2014, jurisdiction is under the Ministry of Child, Equality, Integration and Social Affairs, Permanent Under-Secretarial Department, Office of Family Affairs. This paper will describe the judicial and pragmatic aspects of our deliberations. Furthermore, a few key cases will be described which demonstrate how the recognition process sometimes influences the negotiation of religious identity among applicant denominations.