The institutional picture is complex and dynamic, this book will review the institutional context for contemporary religion, focusing on its transnational implications. This is indeed a rich topic, but it has not been treated in anything like a systematic fashion. A remarkable array of institutions are involved, many with extensive transnational structures. They take many forms, some specific to individual faiths (with Catholic institutions a complex in themselves but the most highly developed), denominations, or faiths, some with specific substantive purposes (Habitat for Humanity, Islamic Relief, for example), while others aim to promote peace and social justice through interfaith action. The United Nations and other institutions, the European Union, the World Economic Forum, and the World Bank, for example, have grappled with how to relate to both institutions and issues involving religion. However, serious gaps in knowledge and understanding have hindered efforts to navigate these institutions and this has played significant roles in tensions and failures to take advantage of opportunities for partnership, for example in achieving the Millennium Development goals. The new forms that religious institutions are taking, their fit with human rights and democratic ideals, their changing nature in plural societies, are a highly relevant part of the global institutional picture, and this volume aims to provide an accessible and rich introduction to them.
It is a paradox, that at a time when religiously motivated groups use violence to achieve perverse objectives, the potential of the world's diverse religious traditions and institutions to contribute to peace and development is largely ignored. With this book, Katherine Marshall, one of the first international development specialists who has emphasized the critical importance of religion in global development, provides anyone working in international affairs with an outstanding introduction to and analysis of a topic that is far too important to ignore.
Michel Camdessus, Former Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Faith and globalisation are two of the world's most powerful contemporary forces; the dynamics and contours of religion form today an integral part of international relations. Yet how much do we understand about how religions work as global institutions? And when you ring up Global Catholicism and Global Islam who is at the switchboard and to whom should you talk? This is a clear, helpful and deeply informed guidebook for those wise enough to recognise the transformative power of the world faiths in the 21st. Century.
Ian Linden, Policy Director of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and Associate Professor in the study of religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
This book provides a welcome corrective to the religious illiteracy that has for too long marked the study and conduct of policy-making in relation to the world's poorer countries. Katherine Marshall has provided a superb mapping and analysis of the world's main religions, religious movements, and myriad faith-inspired organizations, and the part they have played in recent times in advancing human development (or in some cases not). She also analyses succinctly the unresolved issues which prevent religious organizations from working more productively alongside non-religious actors, especially governments and international institutions such as the World Bank. Her book should be required reading for all students and practitioners of development.
Sir Tim Lankester, Honorary fellow at School of African and Oriental Studies, UK.
Goaded by events like the HIV and AIDS pandemic and terrorist attacks, there is mounting interest in religion among international relations specialists. However, the world of religious institutions is so complex that for many it is difficult to know where to start in making sense of different entities. Katherine Marshall's book is a carefully researched and readable introduction to how many religious and interfaith institutions work, informed by practical experience. It highlights the critical roles that they play in global affairs and, still more, their potential to work for peace, social justice, and the welfare of humankind.
Gunnar Stalset, former Bishop of Oslo, Norway.
This indispensable briefing book for policymakers, diplomats, and concerned citizens is chock full of fascinating information about the formal and informal religious institutions that are helping to shape international events.
Robert Klitgaard, University Professor at Claremont Graduate University, where he served as the President from 2005 to 2009.