The Influence of Faith: Religious Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy

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The Influence of Faith: Religious Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Edited by Elliott Abrams. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001. Pp. 223. Paperback $24.95.

Proceedings of academic conferences, this one sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, based in Washington, D.C., are seldom so pertinent or instructive as this volume. Although the essays were written prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, Habib Malik anticipates the present crisis in his extended and somewhat polemical analysis, "Political Islam and the Roots of Violence." Also of particular interest is Samuel Huntington's reflection on religious persecution and the "desecularization" of world politics, as well as Mark R. Amstutz and Andrew Natsios on the influence of religious organizations, including missionary enterprises, in U.S. foreign policy.

Huntington, whose "clash of civilizations" argument has been much debated, contends that religious persecution naturally increases in tandem with the increase of religion as a factor in the identity and legitimacy of states. In addition to Islamic countries, he cites Israel, India, and China as instances in which religion is seen as an increasing threat to-or source of-state legitimacy, leading to state control or repression of religious groups. …