Religion and Contemporary Politics: A Global Encyclopedia

ABC-CLIO. 2 vols. 2019. 993p. ed. by ed. by Timothy J. Demy & Jeffrey M. Shaw. ISBN 9781440839320. $204. REF
At the crux of this substantial set from Demy (military ethics, U.S. Naval War Coll.) and Shaw (strategy & policy, U.S. Naval War Coll.) are questions of how religion impacts a nation’s politics, and vice versa. Two trends clearly emerge: the rise of secularization, especially in the West, and the steady growth of modernization and globalization. With a focus on the period 2001–19, the editors and contributors contend that many countries are increasingly moving away from organized religion; at the same time, fewer people are living in communities with a high degree of religious and political homogeneity. Although not every nation or significant leader is profiled, individuals, institutions, and ideas that have most shaped politics and religion in the early 21st century are represented, and the contributors astutely examine issues, such as anti-Semitism, women’s roles in religion, and religious-motivated terrorism. Entries are signed, and there is an introduction, a time line, cross references, and lists for further readings. The work concludes with an extended bibliography, a brief listing of pertinent web sites, and a detailed subject index.
VERDICT Demonstrating that the relationship between religion and politics is complex, evolving, and often contentious, this well-researched and informative work offers a thorough overview and wonderful starting point for advanced high school students, undergraduates, and interested nonspecialists.
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