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Think Tank Index

Religious Freedom Index

November 24, 2011

In the wake of September 11, 2011 an enormous canon on religion, policy-making and international relations emerged. In this winter’s index, Cardus Policy in Public has selected some of the key resources for staffers and policy-makers on religion and foreign policy, from the prescient to the downright problematic. With religion abroad, don’t leave home without these.

The Review of Faith and International Affairs

The RFIA is one of the most established and longest running journals on religion and foreign affairs, published by the Institute for Global Engagement in Washington D.C. Its archives are a treasure trove for thinking on religious freedom, very broadly understood. It also curates an excellent resource for the curious and the professional, here:

World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Relgious Liberty is Vital to American National Security
Thomas Farr. Oxford University Press, 2008

In this 2008 book, senior diplomat Thomas Farr argues that American foreign policy needs to recognize the formative role religion plays in global affairs, and that examples for that can be pulled from the west’s own pluralist public square.

God's Century: Resurgern Religion and Global Politics
Monica Duffy Toft, Daniel Philpott, Timothy Samuel Shah. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2011

In this new book, authors Toft, Philpott, and Shah argue that religion is back, but the most interesting part is how to measure it and whether it’s a good or a bad thing. They argue it can be good, but only if careful steps are taken by policy and political stakeholders. Read a review in Books & Culture by editor Robert Joustra, here:

The Myth of Religious Violence
William T. Cavanaugh. Oxford University Press, 2009

In this short book, theologian William Cavanaugh asks the prior question about religious violence: what actually do we mean by religion? By corollary, does that concept transcend cultural and political boundaries in a way that is politically useful for contemporary foreign policy? He argues it doesn’t. Rich with history and easy to read, Cavanaugh offers an invaluable and highly readable account of one of modern politics’ most thorny issues.

Religion, The Missing Dimension of Statecraft
Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson, editors. Oxford University Press, 1995

At the end of the cold war, in a now prescient publication, Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson argued that religion was a powerful new source for global order, whether for good or for bad. This book outlines the positive contributions which religious traditions can bring to peacemaking. It is a classic not to be missed.

The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity
Philip Jenkins. Oxford University Press, 2007

The first edition of this book was hailed as a landmark in understanding modern Christianity. No less its later editions, which have come to redefine how the Christian religion is understood by Western diplomats and policy-makers. The future of Christianity and its most powerful incarnations are neither Western nor white.

International Religious Freedom Advocacy
H. Knox Thames, Chris Seiple, Amy Rowe. Baylor University Press, 2009

This is a unique guidebook for engagement. It gives insight into the tangled web of international organizations, international law, and non-governmental organizations that work to advance religious freedom worldwide. Recommended reading for anyone doing policy work on religious freedom.

Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion
Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, Roberta Green-Ahmanson, editors. Oxford University Press, 2010

Today’s secular media often misunderstand news stories with important religious dimensions or fail to take religious factors seriously when reporting. This book uses case studies of particular new stories to show how religion’s role was misrepresented or overlooked, and it offers suggestions for journalists and readers seeking to get it right.

God and Global Order: The Power of Religion in American Foreign Policy
Jonathan Chaplin, Robert Joustra, editors. Baylor University Press, 2008

With an eye on the turbulent century ahead, God and Global Order implores policy-makers to recognize the power of faith to inform and enhance U.S. foreign policy. The contributors warn that ignoring the far-reaching role of faiths (those both religious and secular) and their influence upon international agendas could carry disastrous consequences—both for the U.S. and for the larger global order. Read Dr. Paul Rowe’s full review in Cardus Policy in Public from our fall 2010 issue:

Religious Freedom in the World
Paul Marshall. Rowman & Littlefield and the Hudson Institute, 2007

Religious Freedom in the World profiles 101 countries and territories, which between them contain more than 95 per cent of the world’s population, and uses an easily comprehensible numeric scale to rank the level of religious freedom found in each. It also provides separately derived measures of government regulation of religion, government favouritism of religion, and social regulation of religion.

Religion and Security: The New Nexus in International Relations
Robert Seiple, Dennis Hoover, editors. Rowman & Littlefield, 2004

In global security today, religion is not only part of the problem but also part of the solution. This book explores the positive nexus between religion and security, paying particular attention to the resources within the Abrahamic faith traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that foster sustainable peace.

The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics
Peter L. Berger, editor. Eerdmans, 1999.

Theorists of “secularization” have for two centuries been saying that religion must inevitably decline in the modern world. But today, much of the world is as religious as ever. This volume challenges the belief that the modern world is increasingly secular, showing instead that modernization more often strengthens religion.

The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations: The Struggle for the Soul of the Twenty-First Century
Scott M. Thomas. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005

What will pluralism look like in the twenty-first century? This book examines how the global resurgence of religion will impact the key concepts and practices of international relations as the modern world is redefined.

Politics of Past Evil: Religion, Reconciliation, and the Dilemmas of Transitional Justice
Daniel Philpott, editor. University of Notre Dame Press, 2006

This collection includes contributions from theologians, political scientists, and philosophers—all exploring how theologically grounded reconciliation can help countries overcome deep-seated conflict and promote justice.

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This Article Belongs To ...

  1. November 2011: The Office of Religious Freedom
    CPIP - The Office of Religious Freedom The federal government announced this past spring that it would open an Office of Religious Freedom. This issue of Cardus Policy in Public brings together some of the best thinkers and practitioners on religious freedom in North America to give context, advice and encouragement as the office goes online in the coming days.

    Register to download the full issue PDF.