Politics and Religion / Edition 1

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Islamic fundamentalists wreck the financial heart of New York; Hindus destroy a mosque at Ayodhya; Orthodox Jews battle Palestinians for possession of holy sites; in Egypt, Israel and India political leaders are murdered by religious zealots. In many parts of the world, religion combines with ethnic and national conflict to stimulate political militancy. The collapse of Communism and the failure of Western secular models of development have stimulated the revival of religiously inspired nationalisms. Even in stable affluent democracies, religion is a powerful influence on political preferences. It affects lifestyle concerns such as abortion, gender roles and gay rights. It influences economic attitudes. It shapes the alignments of political parties. Believers try to influence governments and, although most governments in principle tolerate religious diversity, many still attempt to regulate religious behaviour, particularly that of new religious movements.

Steve Bruce draws on material from all over the world and from all religious traditions to explore the complex links between religion and politics. He shows that, while social, economic and political circumstances shape the political choices and actions of believers, religion still matters. Although the major world faiths have at times been associated with every conceivable political agenda, there remain important differences between Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Confucian, Shinto and Muslim politics.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745628202
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/12/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 0.65 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Bruce is Professor of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen and a Fellow of the British Academy

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Table of Contents





Some Illustrations.

Caution About Method.

The Mix-and-Match Wardrobe.

The Limits to Comparison.

Defining Politics and Religion.

Religion Standing Apart.




The Ottoman Empire.

The Balkan Secessions.

The Failure of Reform.

The British Raj.

Common Humanity.

Religious Identities in India.

Creating a Nation from a Religion.




Religion and National Identity.

Nationalists Mobilizing Strong Religious Identities.

Poland and Ireland.

Nationalists Mobilizing Weak Religious Identities.


Russia and the Ukraine.

Nationalists Rejecting Strong Religious Identities.

Turkey, Egypt, Syria and Iran.


Nationalists Rejecting Fragmented Religious Identities.

Sub-Saharan Africa.

Imposing Toleration.

Why religion?.

Pious Dissent from Religio-ethnic Linkage.

Global Fundamentalism.

The Limits to Fundamentalism.




Closed Catholic Politics.

Catholicism and the Right.

Open Catholic Politics.

Religious Dissent and Class Formation.

Religion and West European Politics Post-1945.

Religion and Party.

Socio-moral Values.




Taming Industry.

Promoting Equality.

Resisting State Terror.

The Value of Religion for Political Protest.

The Moral High Ground.



Honest brokers.


The New Christian Right.

The rise of the NCR.

Evaluating the NCR.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Zealotry.

Structural Advantages.

Structural Constraints.

Concluding Thoughts on Individualism.



Enforcing Obedience to God.

Ensuring Loyalty.

The Road to Freedom.

An Aside on Necessity.

Communist Repression.

The post-Soviet settlement.


Islamic Repression.



Policing Religious Innovation.


Millennial Disaster Movements.

State Responses.

New Religions and Children.





Parties and Social Movements.

Models of Explanation.

The Pygmalion Method.


The Causal Nexus.

The Variables.

The Nature of the Divine.

The Reach of Religion.

The Politics of Orthopraxis.

Religions of the Powerful and the Impotent.

The Burns Doctrine: Secularization and Liberty.


Individualism and egalitarianism.





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