Religion and the Global Politics of Human Rights

Thomas Banchoff, Robert Wuthnow

Research output: Book/ReportBook

28 Scopus citations


Are human rights universal or the product of specific cultures? Is democracy a necessary condition for the achievement of human rights in practice? And when, if ever, is it legitimate for external actors to impose their understandings of human rights upon particular countries? In the contemporary context of globalization, these questions have a salient religious dimension. Religion intersects with global human rights agendas in multiple ways, including: whether 'universal' human rights are in fact an imposition of Christian understandings; whether democracy, the 'rule of the people,' is compatible with God's law; and whether international efforts to enforce human rights including religious freedom amount to an illicit imperialism. This book provides a survey of the religious politics of human rights across the world's major regions, political systems, and faith traditions. The book takes a bottom-up approach and focus particularly on hot-button issues like human rights in Islam, Falun Gong in China, and religion in the former Soviet Union. Each chapter examines the interaction of human rights and religion in practice and the challenges they pose for national and international policymakers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages336
ISBN (Electronic)9780199894123
ISBN (Print)9780195343397
StatePublished - May 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Christianity
  • Democracy
  • Falun gong
  • Human rights
  • Islam
  • Religion


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