In This Review

Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania
Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania
By lavinia Stan and Lucian Turcescu
Oxford University Press, 2007, 288 pp.

Fashion in the social sciences has lately edged away from a preoccupation with ethnicity and ethnic conflict to the not totally unrelated topic of religion and politics. The appearance of dedicated centers and programs as well as publication series confirms the rise (not coincidentally with a heavy focus on Islam). In keeping with the trend, religion has reemerged as a crucial dimension of state-society relations in postsocialist societies. Because these two authors have long given thought to the matter -- not least because they lived it, and at a price, when still in communist Romania -- they bring seasoned judgments and a rich analytic framework to the subject. In Romania, the story revolves around the Romanian Orthodox Church, but there are other players, including minority religions and secular intellectual elites. Stan and Turcescu first parse the contending views of how organized religion should figure in the country's political life into four alternative models and then explore how religion and politics have unfolded in Romania in six policy areas, from elections and the manipulation of nationalist themes to religion in schools and several other hot-button social issues.