Category: Religion & Politics


Jeremy Menchik on Islam, Tolerance, Democracy, & Indonesia

Indonesia is both the world’s largest majority Muslim country and a consolidated democracy. Yet, unlike Western democracies, the Indonesian state pursues a policy of Godly nationalism that prioritizes religious belief over secularism. Despite this, the nation also exhibits a high level of religious toleration for various religious minorities including Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and various variants of Islam. Prof. Jeremy Menchik (Boston University) discusses this interesting balancing act and explains

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Chris Soper on the Challenge of Religious Pluralism

How do various democratic nations manage increasing religious pluralism around the world?  Prof. Christopher Soper, a distinguished political scientist at Pepperdine University, answers this question and talks about the third edition of his book The Challenge of Pluralism, co-authored with Kevin den Dulk and the late Stephen Monsma.  After Chris provides a few reflections on […]

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Jason Klocek on Religious Conflict and Repression

Why do governments repress religious organizations? Jason Klocek, a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley, explains how government experience with, and fear of, conflict that has a religious dimension will motivate rulers to crack down not only on religious that appear to be a direct threat, but most religions in general. He shares the research results of a study he conducted with Prof. Peter Henne of the University of Vermont and provides a number of interesting case studies to illustrate their explanation, including Russia and China.

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Davis Brown on Religion, Initiating War, and Data

Does the religious composition of a nation and its leaders have an impact on whether a country will initiate a war? Prof. Davis Brown, a research fellow at Baylor’s ISR, discusses his most recent article on this subject and details a new data set that he has constructed (and is expanding) to answer questions like this one and others. His analysis reveals that countries with a Christian war ethic have been much less likely to initiate wars than ones with an Islamic war ethic, dating back to 1946.

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Does America Need a Christian Democratic Party?

With all the tumult in the American political landscape recently, is the United States pump primed for a Christian Democratic party similar to those in Europe? Three scholars debate this topic based upon a scholarly symposium published in the journal “Perspectives on Political Science.” Prof. Hunter Baker (Union University), the organizer of the symposium, argues that the time is right for Christian Democracy in America. Prof. Bryan McGraw (Wheaton College) notes that while Christian Democracy (CD) was helpful in Europe for consolidating democracy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the conditions in the U.S. are not ripe for CD. Finally, Prof. Micah Watson (Calvin College) takes a decidedly negative position towards the concept of CD. Your host, Tony, chimes in with his own thoughts at the end.

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Religious Liberty and Violent Religious Extremism

Can a foundation of religious freedom mitigate violent extremism by various religious organizations? This is the question put before a group of scholars at a symposium sponsored by the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs (Georgetown University). Moderated by Thomas Farr, the panelists include Dan Philpott (Notre Dame), William Inboden (Texas), Allen Hertzke (Oklahoma), and Sahar Aziz (Texas A&M).

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Kelsey Dallas on Religious Journalism

Deseret News journalist Kelsey Dallas joins us to discuss her path towards religious news writing, the importance of the Religion News Association, and a number of the stories she has covered throughout the years. We talk about stories regarding life on other planets (and how it would affect religious believers), pilgrimages to Chimayo (New Mexico), football prayer circles, and what has become of the faith of all these Millennials. A wide-ranging, uplifting, and fun conversation.

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Is Religious Freedom Good for Growth? A Panel Discussion

Can religious liberty promote economic growth and long-term development? An expert panel of scholars moderated by Brian Grim discusses various perspectives on this question with the conversation ranging everywhere from the Ottoman Empire to Guatemala, and from Chinese house churches to bourbon. The panel includes noted luminaries Ilan Alon, Timur Kuran, Rachel McCleary, and your fuzzy host Anthony Gill.

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Daniel Dreisbach on Biblical Rhetoric in the Founding Era

What role did the Bible play in the rhetoric of the Founding Era of the United States? Prof. Daniel Dreisbach discusses how various themes and particular passages of the Scriptures were used by political leaders during the late 18th and early 19th century to help frame the creation of a new republic. He argues that verses found in Micah, Proverbs, and other places were used frequently to connect to a larger political conversation with the American people regarding the nature of the United States, the importance of virtue in its citizenry, and why the diffusion of power was important. We also chat about the role of religion during presidential inaugurations.

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Paul Harvey on Religion in the American South

“The South” is commonly referred to as the Bible Belt in the United States today, and despite New England having a more explicit Christian identity during colonial times, the region from Virginia down to Florida and out to Texas has been shaped by religious dynamics from its most early days.  Prof. Paul Harvey, professor of […]

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