This paper argues that religious institutions have largely been neglected within the study of cultural policy. This is attributed to the inherently secular tendency of most modern social sciences. Despite the predominance of the ‘secularisation paradigm’, the paper notes that religion continues to promote powerful attachments and denunciations. Arguments between the ‘new atheists’, in particular, Richard Dawkins, and their opponents are discussed, as is Habermas’s conciliatory encounter with Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI). The paper then moves to a consideration of the Roman Catholic Church as an agent of cultural policy, whose overriding aim is the promotion of ‘Christian consciousness’. Discussion focuses on the contested meanings of this, with reference to (1) the deliberations of Vatican II and (2) the exercise of theological and cultural authority by the Pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). It is argued that these doctrinal disputes intersect with secular notions of social and cultural policy and warrant attention outside the specialist realm of theological discourse
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