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Abstract

In the last decade, religious politics seemed to sweep the world. Calls have been issued for religion to regain its rightful place in the study of politics. We contend that the influence of religion on politics is hardly novel and that religious beliefs and organizations have had a profound effect on polities both in the developed democracies and in developing societies. Drawing widely on the comparative sociology of politics, we trace the role of religion in the generation of political attitudes and preferences, in the process of democratization, in the formation of interest organizations and confessional parties, and consider the contemporary debate concerning religious violence. We will demonstrate the importance of religion in inspiring political behavior, including both electoral and non-electoral politics, and in the shaping of political institutions and the regulatory framework surrounding the religious sphere. Our survey indicates that neither arguments concerning the secularization of polity and society nor for the recent return of religious fervor to politics is persuasive. Religion is, and has been, fundamental to modern politics.