In This Review

God's Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics
God's Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics
By Monica Duffy Toft,Daniel Philpott,Timothy Samuel Shah
288 pp, W. W. Norton & Company, 2011

Since at least the 1950s, Western thinkers have tended to believe that secularism was a master trend in world politics associated with the spread of democracy and economic modernization. Yet as this groundbreaking book argues, religion has staged a comeback nearly everywhere -- even in famously secular Europe. The book's intriguing thesis is that contrary to secularization theories, the resurgence of religion has been propelled by democracy and modernization rather than extinguished by it. Two great shifts have brought religion back into politics: the growth of the political independence of Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim groups from the institutions of government has allowed them to exercise greater leverage over the state, and the development of more activist "political theologies" has given the groups new messages about how to pursue God's will in politics. Meanwhile, thanks to television and the Internet, it has become easier to transmit religiously inspired ideas across borders -- as Hindu nationalists, Turkish Muslims, and the Christian right in the United States have discovered.