In the late sixties, scholars cautioned us that science and technology were making religion irrelevant as a social force: "God is dead; modern society is becoming secularized." However, the seventies saw the takeover of Iran by Islamic reactionaries, the rise of the Moral Majority, the involvement of the Catholic hierarchy in the abortion and nuclear war issues, and the all-out war between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon as well as intra-religious strife on every continent.
To combat the inadequacies and inaccuracies of the secularization theory of religion, Jeffrey Hadden and Anson Shupe have assembled Prophetic Religions and Politics, a collection of essays by noted sociologists of religion. The consensus of the authors is that the world is involved in a new religious upsurge as diverse as its population. In South America, Catholics espousing "liberation theology" pressure regimes from the left. In Poland, the Catholic Church exerts great power on the right. Christians and Buddhists have built solid centrist political parties in Europe and Japan. And fundamentalists in the United States exercise more power today than ever before.
Left-wing, right-wing, "establishment," reactionary or revolutionary, the participants in the new religious awakening are both the disaffected and the well-to-do. Their one common characteristic is that they take their religion seriously enough to try to mold their social and political environments to conform to their spiritual values. Prophetic Religions and Politics explains the main personliaites in this phenomenon, how they built their power bases, and how their movements may shape the future social and political landscape.
About the Author:
Jeffrey K. Hadden is the author of Prime Time Preachers, the most frequently cited work on the rising political power of television evangelists, and a coauthor of Televangelism: Power and Politics on God's Frontier. He is professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, Charlottville, and a former president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.