Generally speaking, religion in Japan means a kind of superstition, magical thinking, or mistaken belief, and thus, is often undervalued. In other countries, however, religious institutions remain very influential. Certainly, nobody can write critically about Christianity without expecting a severe counter-offensive. For example, Jürgen Habermas’ The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere has been criticized since its publication because it lacks an argument about the religious public sphere; in the end, Habermas appeased the critics and offered a religious perspective in some of his later articles.
In my lectures on Western Economic History, I cannot help but argue about Christianity when dealing with the pre-modern political system. The feudal system, which developed from relationships of private dominance, was very insecure and needed the additional public authority of a religious organization. In the High Middle Ages, Christian churches became organized and began to contest feudal lords for political power. The question was which one was more public, religious authority or secular power.