Religion and Politics: a Reference Handbook by
Call Number: BL65.P7 S76X 2002 (Trowbridge Reference Room)
This work is part of the series Contemporary World Issues published by ABC-CLIO. The focus is mainly on the major world religions: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam. There is little theoretical discussion of the relationship between religion and politics; instead, most of the work focuses on contemporary events and personalities. A chronology, covering events dating from 1750 bce to the present day, is included; however, again the emphasis is on recent history, with the longest entry reserved for the year 2001. The Introduction focuses on 3 basic patterns in contemporary politics and religion in order to illustrate their complex relationship: the separation of church and state in the U.S.; the domination of the state by religion in Iran; and the control of religion by the state in China. Another chapter provides brief (1-2 page) biographical sketches of significant figures in the field of religion and politics. This section is interesting, though hardly comprehensive and again it is almost exclusively focused on 20th-21st century figures. Three tables are provided: one covering the percentage of adherents for each religion in each country, another covering the total number of religious adherents worldwide in religions numbering over one million, and a third covering the change in number of adherents for each religion in each country over the past century and a quarter (from 1900 to projections for 2025). A selection of quotations are provided; these are interesting, but this is not certainly not a comprehensive selection of quotes. A helpful feature is the directory -- again, more selective than comprehensive – of religious organizations that have become involved with political activity. This listing not only provides the name and address, but also a description of the work and goals of each organization. When available, the web address for the organization is also provided. Another chapter provides an annotated list of print resources. The chapter on nonprint resources provides a list – again annotated – of audiovisual materials as well as internet resources. However, unfortunately, a number of the internet sites I checked were dead links, and among several of the others were sites that had not been updated in a number of years (this may be inevitable in any listing of web resources). A glossary of terms is also provided, as well as an index. This is an interesting resource, but it is lacking in comprehensiveness and more theoretical discussion of the relationship between religion and politics, or at least more resources covering theory, is definitely needed.