12 September 2010

Book: Faith in Politics: Religion and Liberal Democracy

Just published: Bryan T. McGraw, "Faith in Politics: Religion and Liberal Democracy" (Cambridge University Press, June 2010):


Publisher's description: "No account of contemporary politics can ignore religion. The liberal democratic tradition in political thought has long treated religion with some suspicion, regarding it as a source of division and instability. Faith in Politics shows how such arguments are unpersuasive and dependent on questionable empirical claims: rather than being a serious threat to democracies' legitimacy, stability and freedom, religion can be democratically constructive. Using historical cases of important religious political movements to add empirical weight, Bryan McGraw suggests that religion will remain a significant political force for the foreseeable future and that pluralist democracies would do well to welcome rather than marginalize it."

The book "[a]pplies the moral and philosophical claims to political Islam and the American Christian Right, encouraging readers to rethink how we should view these challenging political movements".

Endorsement: "Bryan McGraw offers a judicious argument for a new integration of religion and politics. Silencing religion as some liberals would do is no less fundamentalist than establishing religion as some Christians have done, he shows. It is far better for modern democracies to foster open toleration and robust engagement of all forms of faith and non-faith that can test and contest each other's policies. It is also far better for modern faith communities to develop an integrated political theology that balances responsible self-rule with reasonable public advocacy – following the example of several nineteenth-century European religious groups. Political historians and political philosophers will learn much from these learned and elegant pages." (John Witte Jr., Emory University)

Bryan T. McGraw is Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton College.

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