The Invention of Religion: Rethinking Belief in Politics and History
Derek R. Peterson, Darren R. Walhof
Rutgers University Press, 2002 - Religion - 221 pages
Is religion an obstacle to enlightenment? Popular and scholarly opinion says that it is. In a world gripped in a clash of civilizations, the virtues of tolerance, reason, and freedom seem to be under siege by religious absolutism. This collection of historical essays argues that the conventional wisdom on religion makes sense only as a strategy of intellectual and political control. The authors study how nationalists, state officials, missionaries and scholars in the West and in the colonized world defined and redefined the relationship between the political and the religious. Recasting and representing religious beliefs and practices, the authors show, was for modernizing elites a means of consolidating new political communities.