Jürgen Habermas’s recent work deserves critical engagement from scholars who study religion. His analysis of the religious heritage of the modern Western world identifies important sources, topics, and challenges to modern societies that have distanced themselves from a metaphysical and religious worldview. Taking his point of departure in the axial age and its universalist tendencies, he shows that this development caused changes in religion and society that still are relevant if one wants to understand the role of religion in contemporary society. Nevertheless, it can be critically argued that Habermas’s work would have benefited from more direct engagement with empirical studies of contemporary religion, and that this would have led to a more informed understanding of religion in contemporary life-worlds.

Keywords: Social integration, Reformation, Rational freedom, Worldview, Ritual