Hillary Clinton, the Big Methodist, must have heard these authors talk. From the journal Foreign Policy via the Dallas Morning News (registration required) comes this piece by Timothy Samuel Shah and Monica Duffy Toft, of the Pew Forum and Harvard. A pithy snip:
Global politics is increasingly marked by what could be called “prophetic politics.” Voices claiming transcendent authority are filling public spaces and winning key political contests.
These movements come in very different forms and employ widely varying tools. But whether the field of battle is democratic elections or the more inchoate struggle for global public opinion, religious groups are increasingly competitive. In contest after contest, when people are given a choice between the sacred and the secular, faith prevails.
God is on a winning streak. It was reflected in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Shia revival and religious strife in postwar Iraq and Hamas’ recent victory in Palestine. But not all the thunderbolts have been hurled by Allah.
The struggle against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s and early 1990s was strengthened by prominent Christian leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Hindu nationalists in India stunned the international community when they unseated India’s ruling party in 1998 and then tested nuclear weapons. American evangelicals continue to surprise the U.S. foreign-policy establishment with their activism and influence on issues such as religious freedom, sex trafficking, Sudan and AIDS in Africa. Indeed, evangelicals have emerged as such a powerful force that religion was a stronger predictor of vote choice in the 2004 presidential election than was gender, age or class.
The spread of democracy, far from checking the power of militant religious activists, will probably only enhance the reach of prophetic political movements, many of which will emerge from democratic processes more organized, more popular and more legitimate than before – but quite possibly no less violent. Democracy is giving the world’s peoples their voice, and they want to talk about God.
A sobering piece. Flies in the face of “evidence-based_______” (fill in the blank). This is Karl Rove’s genius, to have co-opted/subverted religion to the profiteering work of the Republican Party.