The Study of Religion on the Other Side of the Good Religion/Bad Religion Binary

Robert A. Orsi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


One of the most resolute dichotomies in the modern and contemporary study of religion is that between good/bad religions. The bases for making such judgments are fluid, but the outcome is generally recognizable; “good” religions and good religious practitioners adhere to the expectations and norms of the bourgeois modern. The reasons for the endurance of the good/bad religion dichotomy are historical, rooted in the rise of the study of religion as an academic discipline, globally and in the United States; economic, reflecting recent trends in giving to higher education; and ideological. But in Meir Kahane, Shaul Magid upends the good/bad distinction, using a “bad” religious actor, in this case, a virulent anti-Black racist, demagogue, and violent street fighter as a lens through which to explore recent Jewish history in the US and Israel. Magid's steadfast refusal to render Kahane safely other to this broader religious story is a powerful challenge to scholars of religion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-317
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Religious Ethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Israel
  • Judaism
  • Meir Kahane
  • Shaul Magid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


Dive into the research topics of 'The Study of Religion on the Other Side of the Good Religion/Bad Religion Binary'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this