Religious non-mobilizations on morality politicy: “This is the end of the times, but I have bigger fish to fry”
This paper is related to the first question of the workshop. It intends to discuss the case of paradoxical non-mobilizations against abortion policies, and more broadly, morality policies. More precisely, the aim is to show why Orthodox Jews in France do not seek to repeal liberal policies they adamantly oppose.
Indeed, as fundamentalist believers, they all in all reject policies such as the extension of abortion or same-sex marriage and make it signs of a decadent society. On top of that cognitive hostility, they dispose of the ways and means to organize: they are widely present in the Jewish institutions, they are occasionally in touch with public ones and they share conservative views with other well-organized religious groups [Du Cleuziou, 2010]. But still, there is not such a thing as a proper Orthodox Jewish movement opposing morality policies. Why is it so ? Why do they abstain from mobilizing whereas, at first glance, they meet the necessary requirements to speak up ?
To figure it out, this paper compares with other vocal religious groups, such as Christian ones [Wood, Hughes, 1984; Sherkat, Ellison, 1997; Oueslati, 2011], and looks into the minority dimension and explores the notion of cultural distance [Evans, 1997; Nepstad, 1997]. In doing so, it engages with collective action theories on what it takes for a group to mobilize. Whereas literature often holds cognitive resources as necessary [Swindler, 1987; Olliver, Johnston, 2000], alongside material resources, this combination is not always enough. Thus, this case study aims at showing that cognitive resources may have an impact under specific circumstances, both cultural and political.
This paper is based on doctoral research on the articulation of religious integralism and liberal society, based on the case of Orthodox Jews in France, from the 1980s to the present. It mobilizes, in particular, 89 interviews with Orthodox Jews and elected officials, 71 participant and non-participant observations with Orthodox Jews as well as the study of 289 issues of Orthodox newspapers.