In This Review

Religion: The Missing Dimension of Statecraft
Religion: The Missing Dimension of Statecraft
Edited by Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson
Oxford University Press, 1994, 337 pp

For many years, religion was not taken seriously by students of foreign relations, who often failed to recognize the religious dimensions of conflict. More recently, a steady stream of books has addressed the negative role of religion in global politics, almost all of them focusing on the ominous rise of fundamentalism, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian, and the way it has promoted conflict around the world. This book brings a refreshing change. It consists of case studies from around the world, including Nicaragua, Nigeria, East Germany, the Philippines and South Africa, in which religious organizations have played a major role as mediators in ending conflict or facilitators of democratic change. (The book could also have included chapters on Poland and some Latin American countries, where the Catholic Church played a role in sponsoring the transition to democracy.) The editors' concluding comments try not to overstate the positive role of religion, but the book brings badly needed balance into the discussion of religion and international affairs.