Politics and Religion
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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