Religion and Politics: Transnational Aspects

CEU code: 
IRES 5285
CEU credits: 
ECTS credits: 
Academic year: 
Start and end dates: 
22 Sep 2008 - 19 Dec 2008



This course looks the complex ways in which religion affects political behavior in the sphere of international affairs. The course is structured in two broad sections. First, the students are introduced to theory regarding the different ways in which religion may impact relationships between countries, from the role of religion in the foundation of the modern system of nation states to the influence of faith on international law, among other issues. With these theoretical tools, the second part of the course examines concrete case studies that include some of the most prominent examples of religious influence on international politics, both in recent history and in the current time.




The course aims to provide students with a strong understanding of:


• The evident resurgence of religion across the globe and the concurrent rise in international political activism by religious actors.

• Both classical and cutting edge theory that illuminates areas in which religion and international relations intersect.

• The implications of the continuing and growing salience of religion in international relations for Western democratic states and the secular philosophical values enshrined in their governing institutions.




By the end of the course students will:

• Acquire a firm understanding of several key areas in which religion and international relations intersect

• Critically engage with the normative debates on the value and proper role of religion in international affairs

• Apply their knowledge of theory on religion and international relations to empirical cases





1) Seminar participation: 20%

2) Two take home midterms: 25% each

3) Final exam: 30%


Breakdown of assignments:




The class is in combination lecture/seminar form. Normally, the instructor will present a short lecture and then open the class to discussion. During the discussion, students are expected to actively contribute to the debate; the instructor’s role is primarily to moderate and put the discussion in a broader context, helping you to tease out the main themes of the readings. To facilitate this process, before the start of each class, students are asked to submit up questions prepared for the day’s discussion, based on the reading. The students should submit one question per article assigned. The questions must be sent to the instructor by email before the start of the class.


As part of the participation grade, students will be asked to do one class presentation of no more than ten minutes, on a topic that will be determined during the course of the introductory seminar.


Attendance counts towards the participation grade. Students may miss three seminar sessions without presenting an excuse; after the third absence a written note from a doctor must be submitted to the instructor to avoid downgrading. No excuse other than medical will be accepted.


Two Take Home Midterms:


The take-home exams will be in essay format. Students will be asked to write several essays in response to questions posed about themes of the course specified in advance. The purpose is to demonstrate that the students are able to understand, assess and evaluate the competing theories we will examine over the semester, and present their own, well-argued, point of view.


Final Exam: Format to be determined


NOTA BENE(a)! PLAGIARISM WILL RESULT IN A “FAIL” GRADE FOR THE RELEVANT ASSIGNMENT. If you are not sure of what constitutes plagiarism, you may a/ consult the instructor, b/consult your CEU student handbook, and c/consult the academic writing center.


Nota Bene(b): The instructor reserves the right to change the course content at any time during the semester, depending on the needs of the specific students taking the course.

Nota Bene(c): As a rule, no extensions for exams are granted. Being stressed about exams/papers for other classes does not count as a reason to change the exam dates for this seminar. Nor do travel plans.







Seminar 1: Survival or Revival of Religion in IR: Defining Basic Concepts




Seminar 2: Reflections on Secularism/Secularization


Stark, Rodney “Secularization, RIP (Rest in Peace)” Sociology of Religion 60, 3 (Fall 1999): 249-73.




Asad, Talal Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), 2003, Introduction, p. 1-20.


Martin, David A General Theory of Secularization (London, England: Oxford University Press), 1979, 1-99.


Norris, Pippa and Ronald Inglehart, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics World Wide (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 2004.


Wilson, Bryan R. Religion in Secular Society (Harmondsworth: Penguin), 1969.


Seminar 3: Reflections on Secularism/Secularization, Continued


Hurd, Elizabeth Shakman “The Political Authority of Secularism in International Relations,” European Journal of International Relations, 10 (2004): 235-262.




Berger, Peter L. “The Desecularization of the World: A Global Overview,” in Peter L. Berger, ed., The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (Washington, DC: Ethics and Public Policy Center), 1999, 1-18.


Bhargava, Rajeev ed. Secularism and its Critics (Delhi and Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1994.


Casanova, Jose. “Secularization, Enlightenment, and Modern Religion,” in Jose Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1994, 11-39.


Hervieu-Leger, Daniele “The Twofold Limit of the Notion of Secularization,” in Linda Woodhead, ed., Peter Berger and the Study of Religion (New York: Routledge), 2001, 112-125.


Keddie, Nikki R. “Secularism and Its Discontents,” Daedalus, 132, 3 (Summer 2003): 14-30.


Marty, Martin E. “Our Religio-Secular World,” Daedalus, 132, 3 (Summer 2003): 42-48.


Seminar 4: Religious Foundations of Modern IR


Philpott, Daniel “The Religious Roots of Modern International Relations,” in World Politics 52 (January 2000): 206-245.




Carlson, John D. and Erik C. Owens, “Reconsidering Westphalia's Legacy for Religion and International Politics”, in J. Carlson and E. Owens (eds.), The Sacred and the Sovereign: Religion and International Politics, (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press), 2003, 1-37.


Haynes, Jeffrey “Religion and International Relations after 9/11” Democratization, 12, 3 (June 2005): 398-413.


Seminar 5: Transnational Religion and IR in an Age of Globalization


Falk, Richard “The Religious Foundations of Humane Global Governance,” in Falk, Richard Religion and Humane Global Governance, (New York: Palgrave), 2001, 13-35;


Haynes, Jeff “Transnational Religious Actors and International Politics,” Third World Quarterly, 22, 2 (2001): 143-158.




Baker, Don “World Religions and National States: Competing Claims in East Asia” in

Susanne Hoeber Rudolph and James Piscatori, eds., Transnational Religion and Fading States (Boulder, CO: Westview Press), 1997, 144-172.


Falk, Religion and Humane Global Governance Introduction (1-12), “Secularism in an era of Globalization” (35-61).


Seminar 6: Transnational Religion and IR, Continued


Rudolph, Susanne H. “Introduction: Religion, States, and Transnational Civil Society,” in

S. H. Rudolph and J. Piscatori eds., Transnational Religion and Fading States, 1-24.


Thomas, George “Religions in Global Civil Society,” Sociology of Religion, 62, 4 (2001): 515-533.




Castelli, Elizabeth A. “Praying for the Persecuted Church: US Christian Activism in the Global Arena,” Journal of Human Rights 4, 3 (July-September 2005): 321-351.


Eickelman, Dale F. “Trans-State Islam and Security,” in S.H. Rudolph and J. Piscatori eds., Transnational Religion and Fading States, 27-46.


Eisenstadt, S.N. “Multiple Modernities,” Daedalus, 129, 1 (Winter 2000): 1-29.


Jenkins, Philip. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 2002, 1-14.


Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber. “Dehomogenizing Religious Formations,” in Susanne Hoeber Rudolph and James Piscatori, eds., Transnational Religion and Fading States (Boulder, CO: Westview Press), 1997, 243-261.


Van Der Veer, Peter “Transnational Religion: Hindu and Muslim Movements,” Global Networks, 2, 2 (April 2002): 95-110.


Seminar 7: Religion, Human Rights and IR


Appleby, R. Scott “Serving Two Masters? Affirming Religious Belief and Human Rights in a Pluralistic World,” in John D. Carlson and Erik C. Owens, eds., The Sacred and the Sovereign: Religion and International Politics (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press), 2003, HAND OUT


Charlesworth, Hillary “The Challenges of Human Rights Law for Religious Traditions” in Mark W. Janis and Carolyn Evans, eds., Religion and International Law (Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers),




Appleby, R. Scott “The Promise of Internal Pluralism: Human Rights and Religious Mission” in R. Scott Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred (New York, Rowman & Littlefield), 2000, 245-281.


Asad, Talal Formations of the Secular, 127-158.


Seminar 8: Religion, Human Rights and IR: Religious Belief as Human Right


Little, David “’Religious Human Rights’: Methodological Foundations,” in Johan D. van der Vyver and John Witte, Jr., eds. Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective: Legal Perspectives (Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers) 2004: HAND OUT


Jenkins, Philip “The Politics of Persecuted Religious Minorities” in Robert A. Seiple and Dennis R. Hoover, eds., Religion and Security: The New Nexus in International Relations (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield), 2004, 25-37.




Durham , W. Cole, Jr. “Perspectives on Religious Liberty: A Comparative Framework,” in Johan D. van der Vyver and John Witte, Jr., eds., Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective: Legal Perspectives ( The Hague: M. Nijhoff Publishers), 1-44.


Evans, Carolyn “Religious Freedom in European Human Rights Law: The Search for a Guiding Conception” in Religion and International Law, 385-401.


Hertzke, Allen D. Freeing God’s Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights ( Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield), 2004.


Hertzke, Allen D. “The Political Sociology of the Crusade against Religious Persecution” in Elliott Abrams, ed., The Influence of Faith: Religious Groups and US Foreign Policy (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield), Chapter 4.


************************EXAM No. 1 ***********************************


Seminar 9: Religion and International Law


Berman, Harold J. “Law and Religion in the Development of a World Order,” Sociological Analysis, 52, 1 (Spring 1991): 27-36


Nafziger, James A.R. “The Function of Religion in the International Legal System,” Religion and International Law, 155-176. HAND OUT


McCoubrey, Hilaire “Natural Law, Religion and the Development of International Law,” Religion and International Law, 177-191. HAND OUT




George, William P. “Looking for a Global Ethic? Try International Law” The Journal of Religion, 76, 3 (July 1996): 359-382.


“Global Resurgence of Religion, International Law and International Society,” Religion and International Law, 321-338.


Religion and International Law, Chapters 2, 4, 5, and 18.


Seminar 10: HOLIDAY


Seminar 11: Religion and the Justification of War


Elshtain, Jean B. “Just War, Realism, and Humanitarian Intervention,” in J. Carlson and E. Owens, eds., The Sacred and the Sovereign: Religion and International Politics, 90-112.


Hehir, J. Bryan, “The Moral Measurement of War: A Tradition of Change and Continuity,” in The Sacred and the Sovereign: Religion and International Politics, 41-65.




Goodin, David K. “ Just-War Theory and Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Theological Perspective on the Doctrinal Legacy of Chrysostom and Constantine-Cyril,”

Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 49, 3/4 (Fall 2004): 249-269.


Kelsay, John “Religion, Morality and the Governance of War: The Case of Classical Islam,” Journal of Religious Ethics, 18, 2 (Fall 1990): 123-140.


Silverman, Adam L. “ Just War, Jihad, and Terrorism: A Comparison of Western and Islamic Norms for the Use of Political Violence,” Journal of Church and State, 44, 1 (Winter 2002): 73-93.


Weigel, George “The Just War Tradition and the World after September 11,” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, 5, 3 (Summer 2002): 13-44.


Seminar 12: Religion and International Peacemaking


Johnston, Douglas and Brian Cox “Faith-Based Diplomacy and Preventative Engagement,” in Douglas Johnston, ed., Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 2003, 11-32.


Hall, Christopher A. “Truth, Pluralism, and Religious Diplomacy: A Christian Dialogical Perspective,” in Religion and Security, 83-98.




Appleby, R. Scott The Ambivalence of the Sacred, Chapters 4-6.


Gopin, Marc “When the Fighting Stops: Healing Hearts with Spiritual Peacemaking” in Religion and Security, 131-150.


Faith-Based Diplomacy, chapters 1, 3 and 4-9.


Seminar 13: Religious Fundamentalism and IR: Some Preliminary Definitions


Appleby, R. Scott “Violence as a Sacred Duty: Patterns of Religious Extremism” The Ambivalence of the Sacred, 81-120.




Bauman, Zygmunt Postmodernity and Its Discontents (New York: New York University Press, 1997):165-185.


Garvey, John F. “Introduction: Fundamentalism and Politics,” in M.E. Marty and R.S. Appleby, eds., Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1993, 13-27.


Habermas, Jurgen “Religion in the Public Sphere” European Journal of Philosophy, 14, 1 (April 2006): 1-25.


Hasenclever and Rittberger, “Does Religion Make a Difference? Theoretical Approaches to the Impact of Faith on Political Conflict,” in F. Petito and P. Hatzopoulos eds., Religion in International Relations: The Return from Exile, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 2003, 107-145.


Marty, Martin and R. Scott Appleby “Conclusion: An Interim Report on a Hypothetical Family” in Fundamentalisms Observed, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1991, 814-842.


Rappaport, David C. “Comparing Militant Fundamentalist Movements and Groups” in Fundamentalisms and the State, 429-461.


Thomas, Scott “Religion and International Conflict” in K. Dark, ed., Religion and International Relations, (London: Macmillan), 2000, 1-23.




Seminar 14: Religious Fundamentalist Violence Outside of Islam


Juergensmeyer, Mark Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (Berkeley: University of California Press), 2003, “Terror and God”: 3-15; “Soldiers for Christ”: 19-43; “Zion Betrayed”: 44-59.




Rapoport, David C., “Comparing Militant Fundamentalist Movements and Groups,” in M.E. Marty and R.S. Appleby, eds., Fundamentalisms and the State, 429-461.


Sprinzak, Ehud “Three Models of Violence: The Case of Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel” in Fundamentalisms and the State, 462-490.


Tambiah, Stanley “Buddhism, Politics and Violence in Sri Lanka” in Fundamentalisms and the State, 589-620.


****************************EXAM No. 2 ********************************


Seminar 15: Religion and US Foreign Policy


Ribuffo, Leo P. “Religion in the History of US Foreign Policy,” in E. Abrams, ed., The Influence of Faith: Religious Groups & U.S. Foreign Policy (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers), 2001, 1-31.


Telhami, Shibley “Between Faith and Ethics” in Liberty and Power: A Dialogue on Religion & US Foreign Policy in an Unjust World 71-94.




Charles, J. D. “Presumption against War or Presumption against Injustice? The Just War Tradition Reconsidered,” Journal of Church and State, 47, 2 (Spring 2005): 335-370.


Hackett, Rosalind I.J., Silk, Mark, and Hoover, Dennis, eds., Religious Persecutions as a US Policy Issue (Hartford, CT: Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life): 1-17.


Hehir, J. Brian (2001), "Religious Freedom and US Foreign Policy: Categories and Choices", in E. Abrams (ed.), The Influence of Faith: Religious Groups & U.S. Foreign Policy, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, pp. 33-52.


Seminar 16: Religion and US Foreign Policy, Continued


Hehir, Brian. “Religion, Realism, and Just Intervention,” in E.J. Dionne, Jr., Jean Bethke Elshtain, and Kayla Drogosz, eds., Liberty and Power: A Dialogue on Religion & US Foreign Policy in an Unjust World: 11-33.


Walzer, Michael “Can There be a Moral Foreign Policy?” in E.J. Dionne, Jr., Jean Bethke Elshtain, and Kayla Drogosz, eds., Liberty and Power: A Dialogue on Religion & US Foreign Policy in an Unjust World: 34-52.




The Influence of Faith: Religious Groups & U.S. Foreign Policy, Chapters 7-9


Krauthammer, Charles “When Unilateralism is Right and Just” in J. Bryan Hehir et al., eds. Liberty and Power: A Dialogue on Religion and US Foreign Policy in an Unjust World, (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press), 2004, 95-99.


Lindsay, James “Morality is Really Hard” in Liberty and Power, 100-106.


Seminar 17: Latin America: Liberation Theology: Overview


Smith, Christian The Emergence of Liberation Theology: Radical Religion and Social Movement Theory, (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press), 1991, 1-50.




Berryman, Philip, “El Salvador: From Evangelization to Insurrection”, in Daniel Levine, ed., Religion & Political Conflict in Latin America, 58-78.


Hennelly, Alfred T. Liberation Theology: A Documentary History (New York: Orbis Books), 1995.


Levine, Daniel and Daniel Stoll “Bridging the Gap Between Empowerment and Power,” Transnational Religion & Fading States, 63-104.


Philpott, Daniel “The Catholic Wave,” in Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, and Philip J. Costopoulos, eds. World Religions and Democracy (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press), 2005, 102-116.


Smith, Andrea “Dismantling the Master's Tools with the Master's House: Native Feminist Liberation Theologies,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 22, 2 (Fall 2006): 85-96.


Levine, Daniel ed., Religion & Political Conflict in Latin America, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press), 1986, Chapter 3.


Seminar 18: Liberation Theology Continued: Concrete Cases (beyond Latin America?)


Mbe Akoko, Robert and Timothy Mbuagbo Oben, “Christian Churches and the Democratization Conundrum in Cameroon” Africa Today, 52, 3 (Spring 2006): 24-48.




Chang, Paul Y. and Byung-Soo Kim, “Differential Impact of Repression on Social Movements: Christian Organizations and Liberation Theology in South Korea (1972-1979),” Sociological Inquiry, 77, 3 (August 2007): 326-355.


Dodson, Michael, “Nicaragua: The Struggle for the Church” in Religion & Political Conflict in Latin America, 79-105.


French, Jan “A Tale of Two Priests and Two Struggles: Liberation Theology from Dictatorship to Democracy in the Brazilian Northeast” The Americas 63, 3 (January 2007) 409-443.


Seminar 19: Religion and Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe


Weigel, George The Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism, (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1992, 103-158. HAND OUT




Della Cava, Ralph “Religious Resource Networks: Roman Catholic Philanthropy in Central and Eastern Europe” Transnational Religions and Fading States, 173-211.


Osa, Maryjane “Creating Solidarity: The Religious Foundations of the Polish Social Movement,” East European Politics and Societies, 11, 2 (1997): 339-365.


Weigel, George The Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism, Chapters 3, 4 and 6.


Seminar 20: Western Europe, Secularization and the EU


Asad, Talal “Muslims as a ‘Religious Minority’” in Europe,’ in Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity, 159-180.


Davie, Grace Religion in Modern Europe: A Memory Mutates (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 2000, Chapter 10




Ewing, Katherine Pratt “Legislating Religious Freedom: Muslim Challenges to the Relationship between ‘Church’ and ‘State’ in Germany and France” Daedalus, 120, 4 (Fall 2000): 31-54.


Habermas, Jurgen “Religious Tolerance – The Pace Maker for Cultural Rights” Philosophy, 79 (2004): 5-18.

Prodromou, Elizabeth H. “Paradigms, Power, and Identity: Rediscovering Orthodoxy and Regionalizing Europe,” European Journal of Political Research 30 (September 1996): 125-154.


Voyé, Liliane, “Religion in Modern Europe: Pertinence of the Globalization Theories” in N. Inoue (ed.), Globalization and Indigenous Culture, Institute for Japanese Culture and

Classics, Kokugakuin University, 1997, 155- 186.


Seminar 21: Islam and International Relations, Islamic Perspectives


Moaddel, Mansoor and Kamran Talattof, eds Modernist and Fundamentalist Debates in in Islam: A Reader (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 2002, pp. 223-246, 247-250, 315-324, 325-332, 348-358.




Modernist and Fundamentalist Debates in Islam, 263-272.


Nasr, Seyyed Hossein The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco), 2002.


Soroush, Abdolkarim Reason, Freedom, and Democracy in Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 2000.


Manji, Irshad The Trouble with Islam Today (Toronto, ON: Vintage Canada), 2003, 1-27 and Prologue (ix-xi).


Sahliyeh, Emile and Zixian Deng “The Determinants of Palestinians Attitudes towards Peace with Israel,” International Studies Quarterly 47, 4 (December 2003): 693-709.


Seminar 22: Islam and International Relations, Western Interpretations


Podhoretz, Norman “World War IV: How it Started, What it Means, and Why We have to win it,’ Commentary, (September 2004): 17-54.




Cook, David Understanding Jihad (Berkeley: University of California Press), 2005.


Esposito John L. “Terrorism & The Rise of Political Islam,” in ed. Louise Richardson Democracy and Terrorism: Vol. I The Roots of Terrorism (London: Francis & Taylor), 2006: 145-157


Fish, M. Steven “Islam and Authoritarianism” World Politics (October 2002): 4-37.


Lewis, Bernard Islam and the West (New York: Oxford University Press), 1993.


Pipes, Daniel “The Western Mind of Radical Islam,” First Things, 58 (December 1995), 18-23.


Stepan, Alfred and Graeme Robertson “An Arab more than a Muslim Democracy Gap,” Journal of Democracy (July 2003): 30-44.