Will the religious confrontations with secular authorities around the world lead to a new Cold War? Mark Juergensmeyer paints a provocative picture of the new religious revolutionaries altering the political landscape in the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. Impassioned Muslim leaders in Egypt, Palestine, and Algeria, political rabbis in Israel, militant Sikhs in India, and triumphant Catholic clergy in Eastern Europe are all players in Juergensmeyer's study of the explosive growth of religious movements that decisively reject Western ideas of secular nationalism.
Juergensmeyer revises our notions of religious revolutions. Instead of viewing religious nationalists as wild-eyed, anti-American fanatics, he reveals them as modern activists pursuing a legitimate form of politics. He explores the positive role religion can play in the political life of modern nations, even while acknowledging some religious nationalists' proclivity to violence and disregard of Western notions of human rights. Finally, he situates the growth of religious nationalism in the context of the political malaise of the modern West. Noting that the synthesis of traditional religion and secular nationalism yields a religious version of the modern nation-state, Juergensmeyer claims that such a political entity could conceivably embrace democratic values and human rights.
Mark Juergensmeyer is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the editor of Violence and the Sacred in the Modern World (1992) and the author of Radhasoami Reality: The Logic of a Modern Faith (1991) among other books.
"This is an indispensable book in helping us understand the new world disorder that seems to be overtaking us. Juergensmeyer points out that much of the world neither understands nor finds attractive the idea of a 'secular state.' He helps us see that religious nationalism is a fact of life that will be with us for a long time to come. Deconstructing any simple notion of 'fundamentalism,' he shows us how it is possible to live with religious nationalism constructively without demonizing it. That is a major achievement."—Robert Bellah, co-author of Habits of the Heart
"This penetrating analysis of the relationship of religious movements to political developments demonstrates how new forms of nationalism, rooted in indigenous religious and cultural traditions, are challenging the western model of the secular state in the Middle East, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. Because there is, Juergensmeyer argues, no satisfactory compromise between the religious vision of the national state and that of liberal democracy, a new kind of cold war may develop, no less obstructive of a peaceful international order than the old. An important, and sobering, feature of Juergensmeyer's analysis is his constant awareness of the significance of 'the religious right' in the United States and other western democracies."—Ainslie T. Embree, Columbia University
"This is an outstanding study of an increasingly important subject. I find Juergensmeyer's concept of religious nationalism more useful in explaining the new worldwide religious resurgence than most concepts currently in use. The book is gracefully written and should be read by anyone interested in world affairs."—Ehud Sprinzak, Hebrew University, Jerusalem