Rival understandings of the meaning and practice of the religious and the secular lead to rival public perspectives about religion and religious freedom in North America. This book explores how debates over the American Office of Religious Freedom and its International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA, 1998) and very recent debates over the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom (2013) have pitted at least six basic, but very different meanings of the religious and the secular against each other in often undisclosed and usually unproductive ways.
Properly naming this ‘religious problem’ is a critical first step to acknowledging and conciliating their practically polar political prescriptions. It must be considered how we are to think about religion in political offices, both the Canadian and the American experience, as an essentially contested term, and one which demands better than postmodern paralysis, what the author terms political theology. This is especially critical since both of these cases are not just about how to deal with religion at home, but how to engage with religion abroad, where real peril, and real practical policy must be undertaken to protect increasingly besieged religious minorities. Finally, a principled pluralist approach to the religious and the secular suggests a way to think outside the ‘religious problem’ and productively enlist and engage the forces of religion resurging around the globe.
The book will be of great use to scholars and students in religion and foreign affairs, secularization, political theology, and political theory, as well as professionals and policy makers working in issues relating to religion, religious freedom, and foreign affairs.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 The God Squad: Public Debate and the American Office of Religious Freedom
Chapter 3 Freedom of, or from, Religion? Canada and the Office of Religious Freedom
Chapter 4 The Religious Problem: The Meaning of the Religious and the Secular in A Secular Age
Chapter 5 Revolutions in Political Theology
Chapter 6 The Politics of Principled Pluralism
Chapter 7 The Practices of Principled Pluralism: Making Foreign Policy in a Religious World
Chapter 8 Conclusion
Robert Joustra is Associate Professor of Politics & International Studies at Redeemer University College, and Director of the Centre for Christian Scholarship. He is an editorial fellow at the Review of Faith & International Affairs, and a fellow with the Washington, D.C. think tank Center for Public Justice.