Politics of Religious Freedom

Book review

Brekke, Torkel (2015) Review of Politics of Religious Freedom, in Reading Religion.

Read the book review here.

Politics of Religious Freedom makes two separate arguments. The first one is partly correct, but not very original. The second is conspiratorial and dangerous. They can be summarized this way: One, the concept of religion employed by most advocates of religious freedom in the West is a modern Protestant concept of religion, which does not fit with the reality of religious life for most people, in most places, at most times. This concept of religion presupposes autonomous individuals with free will and it privileges private belief over other expressions of religion. Two, this concept goes hand in hand with a Western drive to impose neoliberal economic ideals and practices, both in the religious sector and in other spheres. Both of these arguments can be found in the editors’ introduction and in their prefaces to each of the book’s main parts. The arguments can also be found in some, but certainly not all, of the individual chapters.

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