Special Issue "Politicization of Religion from a Global Perspective"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 October 2021) | Viewed by 6489

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Anastasia Mitrofanova
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Institute of Sociology, Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow 119991, Russia
2. Department of Political Science, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Moscow 125993, Russia
Interests: Orthodox Christianity and politics; religious fundamentalism; nationalism; memory politics
Prof. Sharyl Cross
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
1. Kozmetsky Center, St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX 78704, USA
2. Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC 20004, USA
Interests: international relations; security studies; religion and politics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

At the beginning of the 21st century, religion, far from simply being an instrument of national and international political actors, continues to play important political roles, even in the most secularized parts of the world. Discussing global religious politicization, this issue moves beyond church–state relations to focus on the influence of religious beliefs and faith practices on global developments in politics and security, such as conflict resolution and peacekeeping, the role of faith-based NGOs in international development, global religious diasporas, regional and international integration, the emergence of transnational faith networks, etc. Although world politics is still influenced by organized religious institutions, such as churches, we expect to unveil more subtle ways by which faiths govern political decisions and diplomatic activities: via ideology, ethics, diasporas or the institutional commitments of political influencers.

Some contemporary academic literature considers religion, either in the form of transnational politicized networks or sub-state sectarian groups, as undermining state sovereignty and security; other publications envision faith as a powerful tool for diplomacy and statecraft that strengthens nation states and ensures their legitimacy. The purpose of the Special Issue is to reconcile these seemingly antagonistic positions by investigating the contexts in which religion may be destructive for the global order and the contexts in which it promotes international security and development. 

Scholars dealing with all aspects of global religious politicization are welcome to submit proposals.  Preference will be given to comparative studies covering multiple regions of the world. The temporal scope of the issue is limited to today’s problematiques.

Prof. Anastasia Mitrofanova
Prof. Sharyl Cross
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • politicization of religion
  • transnational religious networks
  • religious peacekeeping
  • religion and conflict
  • religion and diplomacy
  • religion-affiliated international NGOs
  • religion and security
  • religion and geopolitics

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
From an Understanding to a Securitizing Discourse: The British Left’s Encounter with the Emergence of Political Islam, 1978–2001
Religions 2022, 13(3), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030206 - 01 Mar 2022
Viewed by 907
Abstract
The outburst of The Iranian Revolution in 1978 generated fear and hope at the same time for several political forces across the West and the East. The emergence of Islam as a political force came as a surprise across all political spectrums in [...] Read more.
The outburst of The Iranian Revolution in 1978 generated fear and hope at the same time for several political forces across the West and the East. The emergence of Islam as a political force came as a surprise across all political spectrums in Europe, even though religion was already at the time becoming a determining variable in the field of international relations. The echoes of The Iranian Revolution precipitated even further the making of several organizations of political Islam in the Middle East, forging transnational identities. Through primary and secondary sources drawn from mainly British leftist organizations, this study aims at examining the responses of the British Left towards Islamic revivalism. Thus, this article gives an historical outline of the intellectual production and the strategies of interpretation adopted by the British Left during the period of 1978–2001, by exploring the main historical events that involved (political) Islam, such as The Iranian Revolution, the Lebanese civil war, the Palestinian Intifada and The Algerian Civil War. The main argument postulated is that interpretation trajectories by the British Left were highly dependent on ideological and geostrategic lineages and respective synchronic political alliances, resulting in putting the centre of gravity sometimes on Islamic activism’s regressive nature and sometimes on its anti-imperialist perspectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Politicization of Religion from a Global Perspective)
Article
Beyond the Global Mufti: Religious Authority as Political Action
Religions 2022, 13(2), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020100 - 20 Jan 2022
Viewed by 607
Abstract
The International Union of Muslim Scholars, headquartered in Qatar, is an organisation of Muslim jurists founded in 2004 by Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī and led today by Aḥmad al-Raysūnī. Despite its importance in the current religious-political discourse in the Muslim world and beyond, this organisation [...] Read more.
The International Union of Muslim Scholars, headquartered in Qatar, is an organisation of Muslim jurists founded in 2004 by Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī and led today by Aḥmad al-Raysūnī. Despite its importance in the current religious-political discourse in the Muslim world and beyond, this organisation received little attention from scholars, and no study to date has been dedicated to examine its claims and practices of authority. The central thesis of this paper is that the jurists of IUMS are religious and political authorities who: 1. embrace a wide range of “umma” issues, which allow IUMS to appear as the “authentic” and “autonomous” “guardian” of Islam; 2. play a role in international relations (ranging from Chad to China) as “supporters” of particular political actions; 3. negotiate a new type of religious authority embodied by the scholar-activist who emerged as a reaction to the deep religious and political transformations in the Sunni world. To conduct this case study, I approached IUMS from the perspective of sociology of religion (with a focus on the problem of authority) and relied on qualitative methods of analysis (contextualisation, descriptive discourse analysis, in particular), inspecting the local context of IUMS in Qatar as well the global context of umma politics, and using Arabic sources available on its website. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Politicization of Religion from a Global Perspective)
Article
No Country for Muslims? The Invention of an Islam Républicain in France and Its Impact on French Muslims
Religions 2022, 13(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13010038 - 31 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 459
Abstract
Since the beheading of the French teacher Samuel Paty on 16 October 2020, the call for a fight against the so-called ‘Political Islam’ has been heard once again, not only in France, but all over Europe (EU). The politicization of Islam is held [...] Read more.
Since the beheading of the French teacher Samuel Paty on 16 October 2020, the call for a fight against the so-called ‘Political Islam’ has been heard once again, not only in France, but all over Europe (EU). The politicization of Islam is held to be responsible for the increasing attacks by radical Islamic actors within European metropoles, and the EU states’ call for action and revenge in response to this ideology and its adherents, in order to guarantee public security and democratic values. Starting from the major terrorist attacks in France in the last few years, this paper seeks to compare the interlinking between domestic policy and religious radicalization and its impact on neighboring states. With regard to the attacks on 13 November 2015 in France, the attackers were traced back to radical networks in Belgium and Germany. Based on selected interviews that have been conducted by the author with female adherents of jihadist milieus within the years 2015 and 2016 in France and social media examples of Muslim reactions on the current French law enforcement, the tension between domestic policy and religious freedom related to Islam in France will be highlighted in this article. Among other reasons, the interview quotations and social media reactions can be seen as a result of a specific religious understanding and practice related to Islam by some actors. In addition, the ongoing othering of Muslims by France and other European societies can be seen to be in sum to be responsible for the increasing interest of young Muslims in radical Islamic thought that led to jihadist attacks within France in the not-so-distant past. With respect to the aforementioned development, this article will conceptualize the problematique of a (politically motivated) category formation related to one religion that is currently practiced in France, as seen from the perspective of a religious studies scholar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Politicization of Religion from a Global Perspective)
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Article
The International Activity of Ordo Iuris. The Central European Actor and the Global Christian Right
Religions 2021, 12(12), 1038; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12121038 - 24 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 697
Abstract
Much of the research dedicated to recent political changes in Poland emphasises the conservative agenda pursued by the ruling Law and Justice party. Many of the articles briefly mention Ordo Iuris (OI). This non-governmental organisation, established in 2013, deserves a proper analysis as [...] Read more.
Much of the research dedicated to recent political changes in Poland emphasises the conservative agenda pursued by the ruling Law and Justice party. Many of the articles briefly mention Ordo Iuris (OI). This non-governmental organisation, established in 2013, deserves a proper analysis as it presents a rare success story of an actor pursuing a pro-life agenda from Poland which is not officially affiliated with the local Catholic Church. Ordo Iuris is not only able to influence domestic socio-political dynamics but has also developed a capacity to act beyond Poland’s borders. This paper focuses on OI’s international activity with two goals in mind. Firstly, it shows how OI—with its narrative, methods and actions—fits into the broader phenomenon of the Global Christian Right. In this regard, the paper draws attention to the similarities as well as the specificities of this Central European NGO. Secondly, it discusses the consequences of entanglement in politics for Ordo Iuris’s agenda. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Politicization of Religion from a Global Perspective)
Article
The Trinity: Prototype of Real Existence or Danger to Political Wellbeing? Tanner, Volf, and Yannaras in Conversation
Religions 2021, 12(11), 998; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110998 - 14 Nov 2021
Viewed by 694
Abstract
Kathryn Tanner maintains that political theologies based on the Trinity are not only unsound, but potentially dangerous. Her primary concern is that the Trinity, by definition, cannot serve as a “model” for human socio-political organization. Miroslav Volf, while sharing Tanner’s sense that Trinitarian [...] Read more.
Kathryn Tanner maintains that political theologies based on the Trinity are not only unsound, but potentially dangerous. Her primary concern is that the Trinity, by definition, cannot serve as a “model” for human socio-political organization. Miroslav Volf, while sharing Tanner’s sense that Trinitarian political theologies are fraught, nevertheless, maintains that the Trinity can serve as a “vision” for human socio-political relations, albeit not as a “program”. This article brings Tanner and Volf into conversation with Eastern Orthodox philosopher-theologian Christos Yannaras, whose Trinitarian political theology regards the Trinity as the “prototype” or “archetype” of a mode of existence in which humans can participate by transcending their natures, with the aim of realizing truth. This article argues that Yannaras offers a novel way of conceptualizing Trinitarian political theology which escapes Tanner and Volf’s criticisms, on the one hand, and offers Social Trinitarianism a fresh and fertile perspective that could advance its discourse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Politicization of Religion from a Global Perspective)
Article
The Policy of the Russian Orthodox Church on International Labor Migrants: How the Public Role Collides with Preaching the Word
Religions 2021, 12(11), 993; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110993 - 12 Nov 2021
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Abstract
The authors’ objective was to find out how and why the approach of the Russian Orthodox Church to sociocultural adaptation of predominantly Muslim international labor migrants has evolved from its initial stage to now. Research methodology is based on a critical analysis of [...] Read more.
The authors’ objective was to find out how and why the approach of the Russian Orthodox Church to sociocultural adaptation of predominantly Muslim international labor migrants has evolved from its initial stage to now. Research methodology is based on a critical analysis of various sources, on observations, and archival materials. The adaptation program of the Church was advertised as a secular project pursuing the goal of peacekeeping because of a tacit agreement on mutual non-proselytisation between the basic faith-based communities in Russia. The initiative, launched in December 2012, had to merge adaptation courses of all dioceses into a nationwide network that then was expected to become part of an all-Russian system of preparation for language and culture tests. The Church also planned to open its own network of testing centrescenters for migrants. The authors emphasize that, although some of the diocesan courses were successful, the initiative deteriorated due to many external and internal factors. One of them was that diocesan courses have proven to be unattractive for labor migrants; their curriculum was too thick and overloaded with information about Russian culture and Orthodox Christianity, while Muslim labor migrants preferred to adapt to their new environment with a mediation of their own networks. It is suggested by the authors that the main cause of the project’s non-fulfillment was an intra-church cleavage between the enthusiasts of adaptation who convinced that diocesan courses must aim at spreading the Orthodox faith to foreign workers, including Muslims, and the church officials who promoted secular curriculum and forbade preaching Christianity to labor migrants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Politicization of Religion from a Global Perspective)
Article
Deconstructing Buddhist Extremism: Lessons from Sri Lanka
Religions 2021, 12(11), 970; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110970 - 05 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1052
Abstract
This article argues that it is not Buddhism, per se, but rather Buddhist extremism, that is responsible for violence against relevant out-groups. Moreover, it suggests that the causes of Buddhist extremism, rather than being determined solely by textual and scriptural justifications for out-group [...] Read more.
This article argues that it is not Buddhism, per se, but rather Buddhist extremism, that is responsible for violence against relevant out-groups. Moreover, it suggests that the causes of Buddhist extremism, rather than being determined solely by textual and scriptural justifications for out-group violence, are rooted instead in the intersection between social psychology and theology, rather than organically arising from the latter, per se. This article unpacks this argument by a deeper exploration of Theravada Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka. It argues that religious extremism, including its Buddhist variant, is best understood as a fundamentalist belief system that justifies structural violence against relevant out-groups. A total of seven of the core characteristics of the religious extremist are identified and employed to better grasp how Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka manifests itself on the ground. These are: the fixation with maintaining identity supremacy; in-group bias; out-group prejudice; emphasis on preserving in-group purity via avoidance of commingling with the out-group; low integrative complexity expressed in binary thinking; dangerous speech in both soft- and hard-modes; and finally, the quest for political power, by force if needed. Future research could, inter alia, explore how these seven characteristics also adequately describe other types of religious extremism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Politicization of Religion from a Global Perspective)
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