Framing the gods

The public significance of religion from a cultural point of view

R.Ruard Ganzevoort

Appeared in: Francis, L.J. & Ziebertz, H.-G. (Eds.) The public significance of religion. Leiden: Brill, 2011, 95-120.


Most researchers of religion agree that the public significance of religion is not best understood in terms of ongoing secularization. Even though organized religion has a less visible and powerful position, especially in the western world, there is also a resurgence of religion in the public domain. In many parts of the world religion does not decline but gains importance and changes in shape. Qualitative changes in the public significance of religion include the fact that other cultural agents and institutions (notably the media, music, cinema, and advertisement industries) have taken over the role of churches in offering frames of reference and meaning, including (quasi-)religious ones. This paper explores the public significance of religion from a cultural point of view by looking at three patterns of meaning offered in popular culture: „romantic love?,  thrillseeking? and „more between heaven and earth?. In conclusion the nature and function of religious material in a non-religious media-setting are discussed.