In This Review

Render unto Caesar: The Religious Sphere in World Politics
Render unto Caesar: The Religious Sphere in World Politics
By Sabrina Petra Ramet and Donald W. Treadgold
American University Press, 1995, 463 pp

This fascinating book reflects a growing recognition that old models linking modernization and secularization are not correct or apply best to limited parts of the world like Europe. Unlike other recent volumes on the fundamentalist upsurge, this one does not presume that the intrusion of religion into the political sphere is necessarily a pathological condition. Rather, it starts from the more neutral premise that religion has been and continues to be a major source of social values and hence is inevitably connected to political structures even in avowedly secular societies. The cases covered in the book will be more familiar to students of the sociology of religion than to international relations specialists, and they fill an important gap for the latter. The volume begins with historical cases (the impact of Mithraism on the Roman Empire) and surveys regions as diverse as Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. Of particular interest are the chapters on religion in Serbia and Russia, which serve as informed counterpoints to the loose cultural generalizations that have been thrown around in public policy debates in recent years.